SPRING HILL — Spring Hill resident Leon Bradford, who lives behind Progress Energy's power line right of way, says he has enjoyed watching the big trucks roll in every day loaded with 36-inch pipes.
In fact, Bradford, a retired dump truck driver, says he sometimes spends a couple hours a day observing the progress of a section of a new 483-mile gas pipeline that is snaking its way through Hernando County toward South Florida.
"I just like seeing those big tractors move that dirt," Bradford said. "They've been working pretty fast on it."
Once completed, the pipeline, which will run parallel to an existing pipeline built during early 1990s, will become part of a link in a 5,000-mile network of natural gas pipelines owned by Houston-based Florida Gas Transmission Line LLC.
The ongoing $2.4 billion expansion, which began in 2008, will eventually deliver up to 820 million cubic feet of natural gas each day to utility plants, factories and other customers across the state's west coast.
According to Florida Gas Transmission spokesman John Barnett, planning for the project began in late 2007. Environmental and geology studies along the pipeline's path were completed late last year. Crews began hauling pipe into Hernando County recently.
"It's a significant project for us because it will allow us to better serve and expand our customer base that has grown rapidly the past few years," Barnett said.
He said the pipeline construction is adding a boost to the local economy. Three out-of-state contractors — U.S. Pipeline Co., Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co. and Price Gregory — are suppling about 500 employees with hotel rooms during their stay. In addition, the contractors added about 125 local temporary employees to their payrolls.
Barnett said most of the major work on the 43-mile leg of the project that runs through Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties should be completed by January. He expects the pipeline to become operational by late spring.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.