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Controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project getting set for construction in Lower Swatara

By David Barr, davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 5/3/17

Lower Swatara Township soon will experience construction as part of the controversial $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project, which spans the state and has come under fire from groups who …

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Controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project getting set for construction in Lower Swatara

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Lower Swatara Township soon will experience construction as part of the controversial $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project, which spans the state and has come under fire from groups who question its safety and its effect on the environment.

Two pipelines, one 16 inches in diameter and one 20 inches in diameter will be installed in Lower Swatara Township.

Jeff Shields, communications manager for Sunoco Logistics Partners, said that the areas in Lower Swatara Township that would be most impacted are White House Lane, North Union Street and Oberlin Road, with construction most noticeable around White House Lane. In addition, other roads that will be impacted are Greenfield Drive, Stoner Drive and Rosedale Drive.

Mariner East 2 is an expansion of the existing Sunoco Mariner East pipeline system. In all, 17 counties in the southern tier of Pennsylvania will be affected by the project, which stretches about 350 miles.

It will transport liquified petroleum gases (LPGs), also known as natural gas liquids (NGLs), which opponents of the project say are dangerous if a pipeline ruptures, from Ohio and western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County.

Sunoco Logistics officials informed the Lower Swatara board of commissioners at its legislative meeting April 19 on the plans for the project and the board updated the public on the maintenance plans. There is not a set starting date but it’s likely to be soon.

The maintenance agreement involves hauling and travel on state and township roads, driveway accesses, road bores that will be going horizontally under township streets, and horizontal-directional drilling under White House Lane and Swatara Park Road.

Sunoco Logistics officials hope the first completion date will be at the end of September 2017, with a final completion date of 2018, although there has been no specific time set for the second completion date.

Lower Swatara Township president Jon Wilt told the Press & Journal that he had no concerns regarding the project and the officials associated with the project have a pretty well established track record. He added that no one has expressed any concern or complaints about the project.

“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Wilt said.

The agreement has security in the form of a bond estimated at $3,087,000. According to township engineer Erin Letavic, the intent of the bond is to cover full-replacement costs of the full-pave width for six township roads and right-of-way restoration for the unpaved width in the right-of-way if construction trucks cause any damage to that portion of the road.

“The intent is not to have Sunoco pave every street. The intent is to bond full replacement of any streets that are significantly damaged as a result of the work,” Letavic said.

Public Safety Director Frank Williamson said there will be a traffic limit to Sunoco-related vehicles on North Union Street and there will be a 100,000-pound combined weight limit for vehicles.

“It’ll be a total repair on North Union as needed,” he said.

Section 4 construction manager Brad Bonner told the board that while the plan is to install both pipes, work on the 16-inch pipe is lagging behind the work on the 20-inch pipe, so crews will complete the work on the 20-inch pipe and finish the 16-inch pipe later.

“According to my bosses, all work will be done this year, so that’s the standing plan,” he said.

Sunoco Logistics community relations representative Steve Kratz told the board that they “shouldn’t need to close any roads” but there may be some temporary flagging while equipment is moved in.

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