City’s First-Ever Winter Gas Main Replacement Gets Underway to Expedite Efforts to Eradicate Gas Leaks

For the first time in the City’s history, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Department of Infrastructure and Asset Management (IAM) have allowed National Grid to replace a gas main during the City’s winter moratorium to expedite efforts to eradicate gas leaks in Somerville.

On January 13, National Grid began work to replace a century-old gas main on the eastern half of Pearl St. and Myrtle St. in East Somerville. Due to its age, the Pearl St. gas main is prone to leaks and had been identified as a priority for replacement by local officials as well as partners including the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Mothers Out Front, and other community advocates.

Large gas leaks have been shown to accelerate climate change and compromise local environmental conditions. In his January 6 inaugural speech, Mayor Curtatone underscored the need for urgent action, citing efforts to reduce gas leaks as a priority for 2020 and commending the persistent leadership and advocacy of Mothers Out Front on this issue. Reducing emissions from natural-gas leakage is a priority outlined in the City’s action plan to address climate change, Somerville Climate Forward,and will be a crucial step to achieving the City’s carbon-neutrality goals.

“We can no longer sit back and consider gas leaks a necessary annoyance. Communities must join together to end this public safety and climate threat,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Not only do gas leaks pose a potential direct threat to safety, but our aging gas pipe system also pumps billions of cubic feet of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, and then cost for all that lost fuel is passed on to gas customers, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to users’ bills for gas they never received. If you ever wanted a problem with a clear win-win-win for solving it, this is it.”

Although utilities are primarily regulated by State and Federal governments, the City works closely with utility companies to schedule work in the right-of-way and approves permits for roadway occupancy. With the creation of several new staff positions in IAM, the City now has the operational capacity to support some large-scale utility work during the winter for the first time.

The Pearl St. gas main replacement is expected to be completed this summer, prior to sidewalk reconstruction and roadway paving planned for the same area in 2021. Questions can be directed to the Engineering Department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5400.