Warren, Markey call for Columbia Gas to repair damaged roads
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey sent a letter on Friday to Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource calling on them to repair more than 70 miles of damaged roads and sidewalks in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.
The letter comes after dozens of fires and gas explosions ripped through homes and businesses served by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover in September, killing an 18-year-old and injuring about two dozen other people. Federal investigators in November singled out a Columbia Gas engineer with “limited knowledge” for errors in drafting work plans for a Lawrence construction site, which set the chain of events in motion.
The two US senators cited a report from The Eagle Tribune that outlined disagreements between city officials and Columbia Gas regarding the extent of road repairs following the explosions.
“Residents have already lived through months without gas service to their homes and months of disruption caused by pipe replacement projects,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Columbia Gas and NiSource must provide reassurance that all of the municipalities’ requests will be met, in order to have a chance of rebuilding trust while rebuilding infrastructure.”
They urged the companies to provide restoration plans to community leaders once they are made available.
The letter also said the repairs must be “consistent with the Americans with Disability Act requirements and any other municipal codes and regulations.”
In a statement to the Globe, Columbia Gas officials said the company “remains committed to supporting the recovery” of the area.
“As we have said publicly, we are working with state and local officials to finalize a comprehensive plan for road repair work,” the statement said. “We will ensure compliance with the Department of Public Utilities’ order and we are working with the communities on the best approach to do that while recognizing the unique circumstances of this large-scale paving project.”
The company also said that conversations with local leaders “are ongoing and have focused on project scope, including curb to curb replacement and ADA requirements, and include discussion of a voluntary enhanced paving plan that goes above the DPU standards.”