AC Pipeline Engineers Discuss River & Stream Crossings with Pocahontas Commissioners

Denise Campbell, the Community Liaison between Pocahontas county and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline brought three pipeline Engineers to the County Commissioner’s May 1st meeting to answer questions about how construction crews will traverse the county’s rivers and streams with the pipeline. They were, Engineer Jessica Jordan of I-3 Engineering, Field Engineer Mike Arnott , also of I-3 Engineering and Luke Knapp, the Construction Manager for the Pocahontas County portion of the pipeline.

Don McNeel, the Pocahontas County Floodplain Director expressed concerns about buoyancy control of the pipeline being laid under water. It was explained that Buoyancy Control simple means how the pipeline will be weighted down to keep it from floating. McNeel was especially concerned in that construction plans, the decision as to how to weigh down the pipeline is left as a field decision to be made at each crossing rather than be specified in advance for all crossings.  The Engineers answered that there are two methods for buoyancy control and while coating the pipeline in concrete is the preferred method, some water crossings may have steep terrain which would make transporting the heavy concreted pipe to the stream impossible. In those cases the second method, using weight sacks on top of the buried pipe would be used. The Engineers said both methods are equally effective and long lasting, but the weight sacks can easily be brought in despite the terrain. They explained that which method will be used will depend on what they find at the site when they actually start to dig the trench.

McNeel also was concerned with “scouring” where flowing water and gravel scrape against the pipe, causing it to fail over time. The Engineers explained that in water crossings, the pipeline will be buried in the stream bed 5 feet deep which will prevent scouring. They added that engineers calculated that a 2 foot bury depth was safe, but decided to go with 5 feet to be extra safe. They said this will also protect against the large floods we sometimes experience here. They explained that a heavier pipe will be used at the Greenbrier River crossing, which will be completed using a coffer dam method where the half the river is dammed at a time so the pipe can be laid in the dry. Asked why they won’t simply drill under the river to install the pipe in the borehole, the Engineers said that they are not allowed to drill in Karst terrain. The Engineers assured the Commissioners and McNeel that, once in operation, the entire pipeline will have constant and vigorous monitoring forever to ensure pipe integrity even during floods and other unanticipated events.

In other actions at this meeting, the Commissioners accepted the proposal of Frontier Communications to provide 100 Megabyte speed internet services to the Courthouse offices for $580.00 per month. This was considerably less expensive then proposals from Shentel and Verizon. The Commissioners’ approval is pending that a guarantee of receiving those speeds is included in the contract with Frontier.

They approved a resolution supporting the renewed application to the WV Development Office for a Small Cities Block Grant to build the Frank/Bartow Server Extension. This will service 100 households when completed.

They donated $5000.00 to the PCHS Football boosters to provide ten Riddell Speed Flex Football Helmets to the Warrior Football Team. Coach Doug Burns said these helmets are 5 star rated by the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings to help prevent concussions. These will enable all starters to have safer helmets. Burns said that concussions decreased to one last year not only because of better helmets, but because of teaching better contact techniques and restricting contact during practices.

In other actions, the Commissioners:

  • Approved an agreement for shared stream monitoring between the County Water Task Force, Trout Unlimited, The West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and the WV Highlands Conservancy and authorized the Water Task Force to donate $1000 from their budget to this effort.
  • Approved SecuriTech, LLC to conduct a fire alarm System Test and Inspection at the Courthouse offices.
  • Appointed Bridget Shaw to the 911 Advisory Board.
  • And delivered their Commission Board Updates.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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