WORK to ‘retire’ and replace an underground gas main that has helped heat homes in Oldham for more than 100 years is due to starts on Monday, October 5.
Cadent, which manages the 21,000-mile gas network in North West England, has commissioned work on the main under Huddersfield Road (A62).
This pipe is large – at 16 inches in diameter and the length of three Olympic-size swimming pools – and runs under the road surface between Stephenson Street and Cypress Road.
It is also among the oldest of pipes in the local area – thought to date to before the First World War – and is now showing signs of reaching the end of its safe operating life.
A new durable, plastic pipe with a lifespan of at least 80 years will be installed in its place as Cadent gets the local network ready for a long future.
Engineers will start work on Monday, October 5, with a plan to be off-site no later than Wednesday, November 4.
The gas main runs directly under the road surface, so traffic lights will control the flow of vehicles around the work area (which is in the Oldham-bound lane).
Gas stays on to local homes except 23 properties which take a direct feed off this pipe. These customers know that they will be back on gas the same day they go off and advance notice will be given.
Craig Horrocks, who heads Cadent’s gas mains upgrade programme in North West England, said: “This is one of our older pipes, a workhorse of the network – but it’s now reached the end of its operating life and must be replaced to keep everything safe.
“We’re carrying out a 30-year programme of works to upgrade our older pipes like these at the rate of around 300 miles every year in the North West.
“These projects take time to organise. There have been months of planning behind the scenes and liaising with Oldham Council to agree the best way to complete the work.
“We know it’s not ideal to sit in traffic lights and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we get this work done.”
Customer teams have been speaking and writing to residents and local businesses to explain the project. Advance warning signs have been placed on the approach to the work area.
More than 85 per cent of Oldham’s 89,000 homes use gas for central heating, as well as schools, hospitals, offices and other buildings.
The gas network is set to play a big part in the push to achieve net zero carbon emissions, with gases such as zero-carbon hydrogen likely to be part of the future local energy mix.