Area where NICOR plans to upgrade its gas mains. Map courtesy of NICOR

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The natural gas utility NICOR plans to upgrade the gas mains of 596 customers in the northeast section of the City. The upgrade will include replacing the present gas mains, some of which date back to the 1930s, said Jim Tansor, regional community relations director for NICOR. The area targeted to receive the upgrade lies between Ingleside Place on the north – with a slight extension on Euclid Park Place to Isabella Street – and Emerson Street on the south; Wesley Avenue on the west and Sheridan Road on the east, narrowing northward to Ridge and Orrington avenues. (See map.)

The new gas mains and service lines are smaller than the present ones, but will have a higher pressure to distribute the gas. The new pipes, made of plastic, have a new safety feature that will shut off the supply if the pipe is nicked but will allow a small amount of gas to escape so the leak will be identifiable above ground. NICOR customers receiving the upgrade will also have their meters moved to the outside of their houses.

Mr. Tansor said NICOR has contacted a majority of the customers who will receive upgrades, and the plan is to begin installation next month.

The current pipeline, now under the streets, will be “retired,” said Mr. Tansor – cut into segments, capped and left in place. The new gas mains will be laid approximate three feet under the parkway – in most cases safely beneath the drip line, or ground-level canopy line of the trees – with the individual service lines sloping gradually upward toward each residence or building, he said. He suggested that anyone receiving the new pipeline who plans to do any landscaping call JULIE, the utility information service that locates underground lines.

NICOR plans to re-landscape the torn-up areas by next fall, Mr. Tansor said.