Hwy 101 in Novato reopens following repair to exposed gas line, Caltrans says

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Hwy 101 in Novato closed through Sunday due to exposed gas line: PG&E
PG&E crews are racing against time and the elements to reroute a main gas distribution line. The work is expected to go on until 9 a.m. Sunday.

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Highway 101 has fully reopened a portion of the southbound direction from Petaluma to Novato, Caltrans said on Sunday.

It was closed as PG&E crews worked to reroute a main gas line impacted by a mudslide from last Tuesday's storm.

The work started overnight Saturday and was scheduled to reopen at 9 a.m. on Sunday, but the closure extended to 2 p.m., re-opening on time.

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PG&E crews are racing against time and the elements to reroute a main gas distribution line. The work was expected to go on until 9 a.m. on Sunday, but officials said on Sunday, it has been extended to 2 p.m.

"We have seen erosion in other locations due to the significant amount of rainfall we have had. But this is probably the most significant event we have had during these winter storms," said Richard Yamaguchi, a senior director of PG&E's gas distribution operations.

This week's storm caused a massive landslide, which exposed a PG&E gas line. Even though there hasn't been any rain the past few days, officials warn that the ground continues to move.

The exposed gas line is now acting like a retaining wall, and officials say all that pressure on the gas line can create a very serious situation. That is what is prompting the work to relocate it.

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"Working to relocate that gas line in order to get away from that hazard, so we can still have gas service to the 95,000 customers here in Marin County," Yamaguchi said.

Officials say it's a massive undertaking in a short amount of time. Crews have to cut through the frontage road and Highway 101 so they can lay the new gas line on the median divide. And then, back across the freeway, bypassing the eroded hillside. It's a total of 2,000 feet of transmission line.

PG&E does not anticipate any disruption to service.

"We are doing it out of caution in order to make sure that we can keep these customers in service. It is not something where we actually have damage to the pipe. There is no leak. There is no danger to the public," Yamaguchi said.

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Officials say they hope to complete the work before next week's storm.

"Even under the dry conditions, the hill is moving. The landslide is moving. (We) further anticipate with the wet weather returning, more land movement is very possible and expected," said Gerald McCarthy, interim deputy fire chief with the Novato Fire Department.

He says the gas lines are fairly new and credits PG&E's upkeep in preventing the lines from breaking under the current conditions. But he adds that there will be other concerns throughout this process, such as impacts on the underground water lines.

"Which includes the North Marin Water District Novato Water aqua duct, which is a 30-inch waterline, that provides water to north Marin communities and some portions of west Marin. As well as the transportation system. Highway 101 is vital to our economy. And we need to keep that moving between Marin and Sonoma counties," he says.

PG&E says its engineers will have to wait until all the seasonal rain is over before they can conduct a thorough investigation and come up with a more permanent solution over the next coming months.

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