CUMBERLAND — Braves officials are projecting a $14 million cost to move three gas lines running under the site of their future ballpark.
The work should be complete by mid-November.
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz told a group of community leaders gathered for lunch at Vinings Bank last month moving the lines is the first thing the franchise has to do before it can begin building the stadium.
“We found this beautiful site, and we couldn’t believe there’s 82 acres, pristine — with these beautiful trees unbothered by human hands — and we couldn’t figure out why in the world that was until we found out there were three natural gas lines running under it,” Schuerholz said.
“The pipelines will be moved to the perimeter. You can rest easy about that. There will be no gas lines when you come to our game.”
County Chairman Tim Lee agrees the main reason the site wasn’t developed until the county and Braves chose to build there was the cost of moving the lines.
“Unless you were doing a big project and you could build those costs into it, I think that was one of the significant prohibitive factors,” Lee said.
Two of the lines, which run about eight feet underground, are owned by Colonial Pipeline Company, and the third belongs to Atlanta Gas Light Company. They range in width from 24 to 48 inches, said Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations.
Colonial and AGL will contract companies to move the pipes and be reimbursed for the cost. Funding comes from the $672 million cost to build the stadium, of which the county is paying $300 million.
Plant said Colonial’s lines stretch from New England to Louisiana.
“Normally, when you talk about pipe, a lot of people are thinking about sewer-type, concrete, clay-type pipe,” Plant said. “It’s very high-end, precision-type pipe.”
The lines run about one-third of a mile through the property.
Plant said the relocation job involves three phases.
“Clearing and grading and prepping the land is the first process,” Plant said.
Plant said he’s hired Austell-based Plateau Excavation, Inc. to perform the initial grading work.
Grading work has been underway for the last month.
“There’s a 100-foot easement (that) is basically the width of where the new three pipelines off Circle 75 will go in,” he said. “So, they got to do a ton of grading work. We’re knocking down some trees. They’re doing all the initial water runoff retention; (they’ve) got to put screens out there. All the initial grading to prep the site for when the pipeline company comes in and starts digging the trenches to lay the pipe.”
The second phase is digging the trenches, which will serve as the resting place for the new pipes. Last, the old pipes will be torn out.
The lines run under Interstate 285, but buildings can’t be erected on top of them, Plant said.
“Because, if you ever had a problem, you had to get to it. You can’t tear down buildings,” he said. “You can tear up asphalt, dirt and concrete, but you can’t tear down buildings.”
While the pipework is underway, Plant said the Braves will begin initial stadium grading work.
Lee called the process “very orderly.”
“The good news is they have a lot of property to work in, so they can move a lot of dirt around without having little or no impact at all in the surrounding community is what they’re doing,” Lee said. “I don’t know of any complaints or comments or anything because of the project.”