Sandisfield road still a mess more than 2 years after pipeline build

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SANDISFIELD — After the pipeline company chip-sealed a road torn up by its trucks during construction, people thought the turbulence of the project was behind them.

But for those who live on or drive on Cold Spring Road, the ghosts of this pipeline past keep haunting them.

"It's like more hands coming up out of the water," said resident Ron Bernard. "We can't have peace."

The chip-sealing job that Kinder Morgan contracted out was started too late in the season to set properly, and the gravel remained loose. Since fall, it has been spraying into yards and wetlands when cars kick it up. The tar is sticking to dog and human feet.

"It's a mess, and the people who live on Cold Spring Road are pretty upset — as they should be," said Select Board member George Riley, who said that Allstate Paving Co. might not have used enough oil on the topcoat.

The pipeline company can't be blamed for everything, though — officials are also dissatisfied with Allstate's work on Town Hill Road and West Road.

The board is planning to meet with Allstate to ask the company to redo the job during the upcoming roadwork season.

Messages left for Allstate were not returned.

Otherwise, at least for Cold Spring Road, the board might write Kinder Morgan and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees pipelines. Bernard suggested this as a last-ditch effort should the board meet a fruitless end in its negotiations with Allstate.

Cold Spring Road was already fragile when Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s trucks and heavy equipment began to flow into town in June 2017. About six months later, the company completed almost 4 miles of a natural gas pipeline spur through town as part of its larger, 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project.

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The road deteriorated quickly. Kinder Morgan agreed to pay to have it chip-sealed, but not paved with asphalt, which, Riley said, would have cost the company $180,000 extra.

"We were pushing to pave it," he said, noting that he did not know how much the chip-sealing job cost.

Somehow, the start of work got delayed to August 2018. Without the summer heat, Riley said, the road didn't seal.

"This isn't just gravel," he added. "It's gravel that has a tar coating. There's tar on shoes and on cars."

The only upside, Riley and Bernard say, is that drivers have slowed down. And fewer drivers are using this north/south artery, Bernard said. He bemoans that the town didn't kick in extra money to pave the road.

He also thinks the road is unsafe in places. The gravel furrows after a rain, making some of the tighter curves in the road more treacherous, he said.

But what really troubles Bernard is the effect the tar gravel might have on the wetlands and vernal pools up and down this road — wetlands the pipeline company has had to painstakingly protect under state environmental regulations. Tennessee Gas, for instance, is still wrapping up its wetlands remediation here.

Paul Gaudette, chairman of the town's Conservation Commission, said the tar gravel concern has not yet been brought to the commission.

Bernard said it should. "It's a serious environmental problem."

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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