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Weather may delay patching of Whitmore
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Whitmore Avenue in Ceres may not quickly be restored to the near perfect condition it was before PG&E dug trenches for a new gas line.

The new 12-inch-diameter gas line is in operation, said Deputy City Manager/City Engineer Toby Wells but weather could interfere with the paving necessary to make Whitmore Avenue smooth again. The city had resurfaced Whitmore Avenue to a nearly pristine condition in 2011 with a $807,395 contract before PG&E said it needed to cut into it. Council members groaned but were reassured in March that the patch should be undetectable to motorists.

Doing the final paving schedule will be tricky before the end of the year since conditions must be dry as well as temperatures above 50 degrees. Wells said that conditions must be that a temperature of 50 degrees is sustained for hours to do measurable asphalt laying.

"We're working with them to figure out when that's going to happen," Wells told the Ceres City Council last week. "They've buttoned up all their trenches but it's not in the final condition. There is still a lane of repaving that they have got to do for us... it may happen like spring break, scheduled when school's out, to get that final paving."

Wells said rather than have PG&E to do a mere slurry seal involving an oil and sand mixture, the company will be required to grind an inch beyond the trench opening, fill it in the hole with pea gravel to prevent settling and perform a thin overlay "to give it the best shot at the way it looks today." Richard Dye, PG&E's Government Relations Representative, said the repaving will be in the center between seams and that the "plan is to not be able to tell."

PG&E embarked in July on the $50 million replacement of the 10.2-mile natural gas line from Ceres to Turlock by way of Hughson. PG&E is conducting a $769 million replacement of 1,800 miles of gas line in the state to prevent another rupture and explosion like the one that rocked San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010 killing eight persons and destroying 38 homes.