Big Dig: ChattGas tears into downtown streets - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Big Dig: ChattGas tears into downtown streets

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Whether it's cutting through concrete on Market Street or digging deeply enough to fuse pipes on 11th, food courier Cheryl Morgan has a few choice words for Chattanooga Gas's big dig to replace service lines downtown.

"It's a pain in the rump!" she says.

"You try to find a parking space and you can't find one, especially now, and I have to deliver (to Patten Towers) every Tuesday."

"We do have a two month old daughter in a stroller," Patten resident Anna Harvey says.

"She's had fun with the sidewalks, to say the least!"

Chattanooga Gas has hired a number of private contractors to replace ten miles of iron pipe, some of it dating to the end of World War II.  It's a $5 million project; the most expensive and comprehensive phase of a five-year modernization plan.

"I'm sure they're aggravated," says contractor's inspector Russell Loyd. "You know, we have a lot of plates around town, covering holes."

Tuesday, a crew was cutting into the sidewalk near the Pickle Barrel Tavern and Chatts Coffee shop on Market. Managers of both businesses tell Eyewitness News that their customers are working around it. But the crews themselves have their own challenges.

"We've run into a lot of problems," Loyd says.  "You have all the utilities in the ground, so it's a lot of digging and searching and spotting to make sure everything's located before we connect it."

Patten resident David Hartman doesn't want them to hurry.

"Especially with that gas line explosion," he says.

Hartman's referring to the gas line rupture and explosion that killed 8 people in San Bruno, California in September.

Federal investigators haven't determined the cause; but they have found no leaks or evidence of corrosion. They have expressed concerns that Pacific Gas & Electric had spot-welded the affected pipeline repeatedly.

ChattGas's parent company, Atlanta Gas & Light, tells Eyewitness News that PG&E's catastrophe has prompted a 'double checking' of the plans and methodology for the Chattanooga upgrade, according to Chattanooga Operations Manager Larry Buie.

"Iif you'll continue to be patient with us, we're trying to get out of here just as quickly as we can," Loyd says.

"Weather of course, is a bit of a problem."

Buie tells Eyewitness News that this year's work began later than is typical; in August, rather than late Spring. He anticipates it will be complete by mid-late January. Next year's projects likely will begin 'on time' and will cover only about 4 miles, Buie says.

Cheryl Morgan is a bit impatient.

"Hurry up and get it done! Like yesterday!"

Anna Harvey says her two month old daughter, Lise, seems philosophical about it

"She likes the bumps (when her stroller rolls down the sidewalk). They help put her to sleep."

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