Pipeline route change in West Amwell in pictures

As I mentioned previously the most recent pipeline re-route made one small change in West Amwell. It was originally slated to go diagonally across the horse farm across the street, cross Hewitt Road, go through an open field and then hook up again with the power line easement.

They changed that route because the open field was not actually an open field, a house was built there in the past year. So they re-routed to avoid the new house. In doing so they’re now routing to the east of the horse farm through a heavily wooded area, crossing Hewitt Road and then going very close to my neighbor’s house and my house. A picture says a thousand words so here’s the old route vs. the new:

Sorry the map is a little busy. The purple parallel lines are the “survey corridor” for route from January 2015. The blue parallel lines are the new route as of March 30th. The white lines are people’s property lines.

After the survey folks said they found a bunch of cool stuff to the North east of Hewitt I went back to see what sort of goodies there were. This shows the terrain the new route will be going through that PennEast believes is superior.

Old road behind Hewitt Road
As I mentioned in another post an old road was found behind the houses on that side. Originally people thought might have been a cobble stone road from the 1700s but the archeologists were not able to substantiate that. They speculate it still could have been a road dating back that far, possible used to access the stone quarry holes in the area.

Quarry Holes

When I last met the archeologist he said the number of quarries found between Hewitt Road and Old Route 518 was now up to 61. Those are 61 holes from the 1700s or earlier where people would manually dig and chisel out stone for use in construction.

Many of these quarry holes are right on the new pipeline route. This is the biggest one I found:

Here’s the other side of that hole.

Boulders everywhere
Further to the north east the boulders get thick. Really thick. You could walk a quarter mile just jumping from boulder to boulder without ever touching the ground.

Some of the boulders are REALLY big:

And the boulder field just goes on and on and on…

Powerline easement
Eventually you come out to the power line easement. You can see more slopes and yet more boulders. Construction along here is going to a noisy, messy affair.

A view from the easement towards the horse farm which the route now misses. The small structure you see to the right in the picture behind the trees is the picnic area for Hewitt Park. So even though the pipeline is further from the park it still comes very close and it’s still well within the blast zone.

Other quarry holes
Perhaps the coolest one I found was this one:

What makes it so cool is the chisel marks along the top of rock on the left. Here’s a closeup:

Yet another hole I stumbled on. I’ve been told these holes also serve as vernal pools and they’re the reason why we have so many salamanders and some other species in the area. Vernal pools are specially protected for the unique habitats they provide:

Some cracked boulders next to one of the pools.

Tailings from the big hole. In the background to the left is a big boulder cracked down the middle like an egg:

Photographing the pipeline route, Part 15: Onward to the Lehigh River

In this installment I got additional pictures in the area of Reigelsville and then moved on down the pipeline route to the Lehigh River.

I revisited Reigelsville at the invitation of one of the local pipeline activists. She took me from her house on the Delaware down the canal to show me the route crossing of the Delaware River from the PA side. From there I continued along the route, ultimately finishing at the Lehigh River.

The billboard
But first I had a mini-mission! Delaware CCAP had let me know that a billboard had gone up in PA in the area of Kintnersville. I just had to get a picture of that so I drove over to Kitner Hill Road and route 611 in PA, and there she was in all her glory:

This billboard was created as a collaboration between stoppenneast.org and the CookS Creek Watershed Association. Good work guys!

Shot 300 – Canal looking North Reigelsville PA
After a brief 15 minute walk from my guide in Reigelsville we arrived at the pipeline route. This shot shows a newly renovated cafe that will be opening up soon. The pipeline will be running right along side it.

Shot 302 – Towards River No swimming Reigelsville PA
Moving towards the Delaware I got this shot of a no swimming sign near the crossing point.

I went down a steep embankment to be at the river’s edge so I could get some good shots of the river at the crossing point and of the Jersey shore line. This shot is looking somewhat northeast.

Shot 305 – Reigelsville PA Delaware River to North
A zoomed in shot of the shoreline at the crossin point.

Shot 308 – Reigelsville PA Over canal
A shot of the D&R canal from a bridge to the tow path, looking to the north at the route crossing.

Shot 309 – Reigelsville PA Valero
A Valero on the road next to the canal. The pipeline will be crossing a hundred feet or so from this. How safe is it to be drilling and blasting near under ground gasoline tanks?

Shot 310 – Reigelsville PA Antique store
An antique store across the street near the pipeline crossing.

Shot 311 – Bog Turtle Farm Sign
Once I bid adieu to my guide I headed north east along the pipeline route. My first destination was the Bog Turtle Farm. This is presumably named after the Bog Turtles that live around here, they’re a protected species in PA. PennEast doesn’t seem to particularly care.

Shot 311 – Bog Turtle Farm Driveway
This is the driveway/access road to the farm. The pipeline will be cutting it in two.

Shot 314 – Buttermilk Road to North
Next up was Buttermilk road. They must like to eat in this area of PA, lots of the streets are named after food (Applebutter comes up soon!). Here’s an open area where the pipeline will be coming through.

Shot 316 – Buttermilk Road to and Gaffney Hill Road
Slightly along Buttermilk we get to Gaffney Hill Road, another pipeline site.

Shot 319 – Buttermilk Road Field Closeup
The pipeline route parallels Buttermilk Road for awhile along this field. The route is just past the trees in the mid-ground in this picture.

Shot 321 – Lower Saucon Field Sportsmen Posted Sign
A Posted sign from Raubsville Sportsmen. Another hunting club that’s going to be thrilled to have the pipeline construction.

Shot 323 – Lower Saucon road to south
Next up we have Lower Saucon Road. The pipeline will be cutting across some farms and home properties here. And as in so many places when the road is closed for construction the residents will be cut off from being to get to many places easily.

Shot 324 – Lower Saucon to west
Looking to the west.

Shot 326 – Lower Saucon field and house to east
A view to the east of the route and a house next to it.

Shot 327 – Applebutter Road and Sherry Hill Road
On the other side of route 78 I hit Applebutter Road near Sherry Hill Road.

Shot 329- Applebutter Road Fort Zoom out

This part of the route is an side connection of the pipeline to one of PennEast’s partner’s. To the north east we see the pipeline is going through this property where there’s an awesome fort and tire swing.

Shot 330 – Applebutter Road to south
Looking on Applebutter to the south along the route.

Shot 331 – Applebutter Road to West
Looking along the road to the west including the farm house.

Shot 333 – Lower Saucon scenic view
I had to back track a bit because I really wanted to see the Lehigh river crossing area. Along the way back on Lower Saucon road I caught this scenic view. The pipeline will be running through the leftish side of this view.

Shot 334 – Redding Road at 78 to South
This is on Redding Road at route 78. This is part of the pipeline cross-connect route as the one on Applebutter. It is a mystery to me and many people why PennEast did not co-locate their pipeline along Route 78 for most of the way – it would have solved most of their issues people are complaining about with the route.

Shot 337 – Reddington Road RR Ruins 1
Down near the river I had to hop out of the truck and go at it on foot to get to the crossing site. To do that I had to walk down some railroad tracks. There are some old ruins towards the river you can see from the tracks. I wonder what this was?

Shot 338 – Reddington Road Gun and Hunting Club
I originally thought I could drive to the crossing site but it turns out that road is a private one owned by a hunting and shooting club. PennEast will be abutting their land. As I was walking I was constantly hearing sounds of .22’s plinking away at targets in the southern range, and then loud shot gun blasts in the larger northern range. The gun ranges are in areas blasted out of the mountain bedrock. These enclosed areas reflect the sound perfectly so the shot gun blasts really slam against your ear drums. It was ever so slightly unsettling.

Shot 341 – Reddington Road RR to north stream valley
A stream to the east near the pipeline route.

Shot 342 – Reddington Road RR to north east hills
The hills at the crossing site PennEast will have to go up.

Shot 343 – Reddington Road Bridge Closeup
Bridge over the Lehigh at crossing site. You see high up the bridge is? The pipeline will be just as high a few hundred feet to the southeast of the bridge, and have to come down to the elevation I’m shooting from. And all of it will be through virgin forest.

Shot 346 – Boaters on Lehigh
Some boaters were fishing right about where the pipeline will cross the river.

Shot 348 – Head on shot of pipeline route
A head on shot of the hill PennEast will have to blast their way up (right next to the river naturally).

Shot 354 – Train coming!
For my final shot I was lucky to get a picture of a train running along the tracks. So this is a somewhat regularly used freight line. I have no idea how PennEast is going to convince the railroad company to let them dig under their tracks. The pipeline will have to withstand the weigh of thousands of tons of locomotive and freight going over it constantly along with the attendant vibrations.

Photographing the pipeline route, Part 12: Frenchtown NJ to Milford NJ

The rest of the route is completely outside of areas I’ve visited before so it was all totally new to me.  The pipeline route continued along very hilly and steep terrain and still crosses a number of water ways.  The dogs were along the ride and thought daddy was insane, jumping out of the jeep every 5 minutes to point his funny little box around at everything.

Shot 181 – Everittstown Road looking East
The pipeline route through this whole area is through virgin land instead of following a power line easement. Here on Everittstown Road we see the pipeline route going through yet another farm.

Shot 182 – Everittstown Road looking east alternate angle
An alternate angle looking east.

Shot 183 – Everittstown Road looking West
Looking west along the route, it’s basically going within 100′ or so someone’s house, here we see their large front lawn.

Shot 184 – Everittstown Road posted sign
A “Posted” sign along the route, looking to the east.

Shot 185 – Everittstown Road Fox Ridge Farm
An NJ Preserved farm on the road. This is a few thousand feet from the route.

Shot 187 – Stamets Road Woodrose Acres
Looking to the North West we see Woodrose Acres. It’s a nice little house perched above a small stream the pipeline will be going through.

Shot 187 – Stames Road Gully to North
A view of the gully where the stream runs through.

Shot 188 – Stamets road looking to the south
Looking to the south we see the pipeline will be going down a small hill. From there it crosses the road and then down into the stream gully.

What you can’t see in this shot but can see in a map is that the pipe is cutting right through the middle of a farmer’s field shown in this map:

Shot 189 – Stamets Road Closeup of stream to the north
Closeup on the stream.

Shot 191 – York Road to the west
York Road is a little windy road that goes up the side of a fairly large hill. Here we the pipeline route looking to the West. In this whole area the pipeline changes direction a lot as it is more or less paralleling the Delaware River around here.

Shot 192 – York Road to the East
Looking to the East you can see a hella-steep hill the pipeline is going to through. All those trees will be gone and the houses in this area are going to be dealing with some serious erosion issues.

Shot 193 – York Road straight up hill
Looking straight on on the hill. My wife’s jeep that we took for this ride is just in the shot to the right.

Shot 194 – York Road another shot of the hill.
Another angle on the steep hill. If you look closely at the image you might notice some patches of very light and bright green. That’s moss growing on exposed diabase bedrock. You know what that means when they have to dig the pipeline down to 8 feet – more blasting.

Shot 195 – York Road wide angle to the west
Another shot to the west this time. As you can see after it comes down a steep hill and crosses the road, the pipeline route goes right back up another hill on the other side.

Shot 196 – Milford Warren Glen Road sign
The folks on Milford Warren Glen Road aren’t into the pipeline either.

Shot 197 – Milford Warren Glen Road to the east
Looking to the East on Milford Warren Glen road at a heart-breakingly beautiful farm that the pipeline will be going through.

Shot 198 – Milford Warren Glen Road to the North
A shot to the north.

Shot 199 – Milford Warren Glen Road alternate angle
An alternate angle on the farm land.

Shot 200 – Spring Garden Road Glynmoire Kennels
A kennel is sited next to the pipeline route on Spring Garden Road.

Shot 201 – Spring Garden Road to the South West
A shot to the South West of wilderness.

Shot 202 – Spring Garden Road to the south
A house and more wilderness to the north along the route.

Shot 203 – Spring Garden Road Pond
A pond next to the kennels.

Shot 204 – Spring Garden Road Naturals Land Trust sign
Well you just knew the pipeline would be going through more preserved land, didn’t you?

Shot 205 – Spring Garden Road alternate view
Alternate shot of the pond.

Shot 206 – Spring Garden Road Kennel and pond
Shot of the kennel and the pond.

Shot 207 – Spring Garden Road Old tree to the SouthWest
Yes this is along the route too.

Shot 208 – River Road Diabase cliffs
This isn’t along the route but is close to it. I included these shots to show exactly what PennEast is going to be dealing with. This is really, really hard bedrock and the drilling and blasting are going to be intense to get through this.

Shot 210 – River Road Dibase cliffs further down
Another shot further down the road.

Photographing the pipeline route, Part 10: Revisiting Sanford Road

I received an email last night from Carla in Delaware Township.  She said that her farm was in one of the pictures I took on Sanford Road, and that there was a lot of interesting areas you couldn’t see from the road that would be impacted by the pipeline.  She offered me an invitation to come out and talk to her about her farm and the pipeline and take pictures along the way.

So my wife and I loaded up our two dogs (Fern, an American Fox hound, and Cinna, a pit bull mix) and drove on up.

When I met Carla she told me a little history of their farm. They bought the 137 acre property 16 years ago from a family who lived in Connecticut. Normally they would not be able to afford such a piece of land, but the Connecticut family worked with them and the purchase was part of a farm preservation agreement. This kept the farm permanently protected as farm land, and Carla and her husband got a farm with huge potential.

You can see their FERC submission below:

Carla and Dan’s FERC submission

Carla and Dan’s FERC submission Alternate Site

From her description the land was a bit of a mess when they got it. They’ve had to work hard to turn it into a productive farm that grows high quality hay. The same is true of the house, it was in pretty bad shape and they are still slowly renovating it into their dream home.

Their farm is long and somewhat narrow. Unfortunately the PennEast route goes right through the long part, running the entire length of the farm. It cuts right across their driveway, which will leave them unable to access their property during construction.

Carla graciously let me bring my camera and document some of the features on the property. It’s a good thing I brought my boots because the snow melt and rain has created acres and acres of mud on the property.

The Pond
A big feature of the farm and an area of deep concern related to the pipeline is a pond located on the farm. The pond is fed by Plum Brook, which is a tributary of the Wickecheoke Creek. The pipeline will be cutting across that waterway upstream from the pond, and any contamination from the construction will end up right in it.

Wider view of the pond
The pond is apparently man-made, it was created by a previous tenant by damning up the stream. A beaver apparently helped as well, it took down a lot of wood in the area to beef up the damning until someone shot it some time ago.

Closeup of the pond
The brook supports beavers, muskrats, and minks, and the pond contains many different critters including bass and many species of turtles.

Pond alternate view
PennEast of course says that their construction is no big deal and they will “mitigate” any damages. That is PennEast’s favorite word – they get the right to invoke eminent domain and pretty much put the pipeline wherever they please, and our sole consolation is they’ll “mitigate” any issues.

The problem of course is that PennEast will only focus on the area immediately in their construction zone. If material and sediment slips down stream they won’t even look for it. So any mitigation they might do would be to fix the brook – with probably nothing done at all for the pond if they inadvertently damage it’s environment.

Plum Brook
The brook is actually pretty substantial in size, doubly so during these times when there’s a lot of water. You can see from how steep the banks are that it must really flow strongly during heavy rains and has carved a deep niche for itself.

Walking along the brook
We walked along the brook to the west towards the power line easement and proposed route. Along the way we were chatting about rescue dogs and techniques to calm the most skittish ones over time. She’s got several cats and dogs in the house plus is holding a new rescue. They’re mostly smaller breed dogs, she can’t get breeds that need to run a lot outside. The problem there is the ducks and chickens on the property. One week and bigger dogs like ours would make the fowl their dinner.

At the easement
We arrived at the easement and I had a much better view of what it looked like away from the road. As you can see the power company has let it go semi-wild. When PennEast comes through this whole area is going to be stripped bare. And, as elsewhere, it looks like they’ll need to widen the cut.

The Kestrel Nesting Boxes
Our true reason for going to the easement area was that Carla wanted to show me the Kestrel Nesting Boxes. Apparently there is a state program that is run to help preserve Kestrels. They help make these nesting boxes, and they also band birds in the wild for tracking. You can read more about the state’s kestrel program in the area here. As you can see in the document the kestrel is a State Threatened species.

Here’s a kestrel box on a telephone pole right along the pipeline route. I wonder how PennEast is going to “mitigate” damage to these birds given their breeding and living grounds are right on top of the route.

Alternate view of kestrel box
Another view of the box. There are several of these strung along the route.

Krestrel Banding
Carla sent me some snaps of the Kestrel banding process.

A view up the cut
This shot is a closeup of the route going north up to Hewitt Road. You can make out the trailers parked at the top which are in my previous Hewitt Road shots.

You can also see the steep slope it goes up, and which PennEast will be widening. The runoff from the extended cut will be going right down into Carla’s farmland.

The house
A view of their house. The pipeline will be running just a couple of hundred feet, well within the zone where spontaneous ignition of flammables will occur if there is a pipeline accident.

Driveway view
A view from their driveway. You can see the pipeline route cutting right across it, cutting off access to their property during construction.

Final house view
A final view of the house. You can see my wife’s Jeep in the driveway on the right. It looks like some old growth trees may be in jeopardy if they build through here as well.

My two helpers
I’ll close with shots of two of my helpers, Fern and Cinna. Fern is 100% American Foxhound on one side, and it really showed today. The farm had droppings from several different critters – we saw deer and fox, and the fox had her heart racing. It was an effort to keep her under control in the slippery conditions, but we managed. Carla helped out when I was taking pictures, for which we are very grateful.

The purpose of highlighting properties like this is not to make a NIMBY case against the pipeline. Rather, I think this shows how little planning pipeline companies put into laying out these routes. It would be hysterically funny to highlight all of the bad routing decisions made along this path – if it didn’t impact so many lives so severely.

PennEast has shown their incompetence in planning out a pipeline route. Do you have any confidence at all that their skill at actually building it will be any better?

Fern hound says good evening, with a smile.

China says the same.

Pipeline Route

The Pipeline route is a work in progress. Check PennEast’s sight regularly for the most recent planned route – they have already changed it significantly once in January 2015, and may do so again. You can see their published route here: http://penneastpipeline.com/proposed-route/ Note that this page is a bit wonky and the route shown seems to change back and forth between the November and January versions.

I’ve saved a copy of the January 2015 route in the form of the Google Earth KMZ file they’re using. While the proposed-route link on the PennEast web site is useful, they’ve limited how much you can do with the map. With the raw KMZ file you can load the route into Google Earth (it’s free, go get it!) or within Google maps and see exactly where the route lies in relation to you and sites you’re interested in, measure distances, etc. I’ve uploaded the KMZ file here:


Note that the purple lines are showing a 400′ wide “survey corridor”, the actual pipeline easement could be anywhere within that 400′.  During construction that corridor will shrink to around 100′, and the final easement will be 50′ wide.