Work has begun on a controversial natural gas pipeline that will run through much of Hamilton County.
Duke Energy's Central Corridor Pipeline has been in the works for years, and the utility company's local spokeswoman, Sally Thelen, said it will mean better service to its customers.
"It's critical that we get this pipeline in," she told WCPO, calling it the "backbone of the system" in Southwest Ohio. "Hamilton County is our most populated county that we serve, so it’s critical that we get this pipeline in so that we can continue to do that."
Once completed, the pipeline will span 13 miles from Golf Manor to Sycamore Township's northern annex adjacent to Sharonville. The pipeline will also run through neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Amberley Village, Evendale, Blue Ash, Reading and Sharonville.
Work began Monday at the pipeline's northern terminus after years of pushback from neighbors who live along the route, as well as from county leaders. In 2016, then-Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune called the pipeline a bad idea.
"They're bad for Hamilton County. They're bad for the neighborhoods they run through. They're bad for Duke (Energy)," he said.
As recently as 2019, residents were still concerned.
"I never really liked the idea of it, the idea of a pipeline just coming into basically my backyard," Evendale resident Cory Petersman said at a town hall meeting in November of that year.
His concerns expanded beyond safety to include traffic impact, as well.
"Glendale Milford's going to be a mess. It's already packed as it is," Petersman said. "So, having a construction team in there for however long it's going to take is just going to screw that up even more."
While the impact on traffic is difficult to avoid, Thelen said, Duke has taken actions to mitigate other environmental impacts.
"We listened to some of the feedback we’ve gotten from neighbors, customers, local officials . We’ve reduced the size and the pressure of the pipeline. So we are very confident in using the latest building materials and monitoring capabilities that are out there now. This pipeline will be very safe," she said, adding that the energy company has experience installing infrastructure like the Central Corridor Pipeline.
"We began as a gas company in Cincinnati, so we know that we can construct, build, operate a pipeline safely. And I would say for certain, we don't look at the Central Corridor any differently. We're very confident in our abilities to do that."
Thelen said Duke will work on the pipeline sections at a time, and homeowners along the pipeline's path will receive notice before construction comes to their area. There will also be electronic signage warning commuters of traffic disruptions.
"Our goal is to get it finished by the end of this year," Thelen said. "It's a pretty aggressive schedule."