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Local News

March 13, 2013

Feds studying I-88 route for pipeline

While the company promoting the Constitution Pipeline project has other ideas, routing the natural gas transmission system along the Interstate 88 corridor is a concept that hasn’t died, at least according to federal regulators.

On Tuesday, an official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees pipeline license applications, urged the Federal Highway Administration to help develop an environmental-impact statement for the $750 million project.

The letter, sent to FHA supervisor Jonathan McDade in Albany, was authored by FERC environmental project manager Charles Brown. Brown’s letter specifically noted that the I-88 option will be evaluated by FERC.

“Some of the alternatives being evaluated include potential collocation of the proposed natural gas pipeline within or adjacent to existing highway rights-of-way, such as Interstate 88,” Brown wrote.

An FHA spokeswoman, speaking on background, said her agency has not been asked by the state Department of Transportation to render a decision on whether the pipeline should run along the highway.

“NYSDOT would have to transmit the request and the location of the pipeline would have (to) conform to FHWA regulations regarding utility accommodation,” the spokeswoman said in an email. She acknowledged in response to questions that her agency received the FERC letter, and noted, “We sent a letter back seeking clarification.”

In December, The Daily Star, citing information from a Constitution Pipeline spokesman, reported that the federal highway agency had signaled that it objected to having the pipeline run along the I-88 right-of-way.

At that time, the same highway agency spokeswoman, Nancy Singer, insisted that her agency had not reached a decision on the project and noted, as she did again Tuesday, that the state DOT had not submitted any requests regarding the project.

The pipeline company has been focusing its efforts on its so-called preferred route, which largely avoids the areas near I-88. The company has said it would face logistical issues — such as having a narrow construction area and sloping terrain — were federal regulators to insist that the line run along the highway corridor.

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