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PG&E donates $5,000 in wake of project
PG&E has been replacing a gas main line down the center of Whitmore Avenue, causing much frustration for the motoring public. But now that the work is winding down, the public utility is giving the city $5,000 as a way of saying thank you for putting up with the mess. The money is designated for the upcoming Christmas Festival. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

For all the inconvenience inflicted on the community of Ceres since the summer for its disruptive gas line replacement project, PG&E officials gave the city $5,000 toward the upcoming Ceres Christmas Festival in Smyrna Park.

PG&E also pledged to offer volunteers to help with the event, which will be on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Deputy City Manager/City Engineer Toby Wells called it a "really nice gesture." He said recreation department staff members Cambria Pollinger and Traci Farris were "very thrilled to have their budget increased significantly for one of our best events of the year."

The good news prompted Mayor Chris Vierra to ask "do they have any more projects in town to be done?" After the chuckles subsided, Wells said, "I sure hope not. I'm tired of them."

As of Oct. 28 the project was at 95 percent completion. Wells said the entire 12-inch pipe of 10.2 miles between Ceres and Hughson had been installed and is to be hydro tested with 1,200 pounds per square inch of pressure. The last 150 feet of the project near Ceres High School proved to be "quite the challenge" and took about a week to complete, Wells said.

The entire project is supposed to be done in Ceres by the end of the month. Work even has been completed to replace the gas line down Whitmore Avenue to Hughson and south on Santa Fe Avenue to Geer Road and down to Turlock.

After successful testing, the paving and project clean-up will be completed. However, the final paving requires temperatures of at least 50 degrees so weather conditions could delay final completion, said Wells.

PG&E is conducting a $769 million replacement of 1,800 miles of gas line in California to prevent another rupture and explosion like the one that rocked San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010. That incident caused the deaths of eight persons and loss of 38 homes. The Ceres to Turlock replacement is costing $50 million.

The new line is 12 inches in diameter and is being planted 15 to 20 feet from the old gas line, which will be left in place in the interim because it supplies gas users in Hughson and Turlock. Once the new gas line is used, the old line will then be abandoned and left buried in the ground.