Pipeline 101: How do pipeline companies mitigate disruption during construction?

Across the country, thousands of workers are mobilizing for construction on major pipeline projects. So, this week, the CEPA About Pipelines Blog looks at how construction contractors mitigate disruption for residents in communities near pipeline rights-of-way.

There’s no mistaking when a major pipeline construction project comes to town. If you run a local business near a pipeline construction site, this can have a positive impact thanks to the temporary influx of new business. If you’re a community resident going about day-to-day activities, however, it can seem overwhelming especially if you don’t know what to expect.

That’s why pipeline companies and construction contractors go to great lengths to minimize the potential disruption for community residents.


Four ways pipeline companies minimize community disruption during construction


1. Clear, open communication

  • Companies create clear and open communication channels with communities that will be impacted by construction activities to provide timely information and address local interests, issues and concerns.
  • They often put in place community and construction liaisons as points-of-contact for strong, two-way information flow with community residents, especially as it relates to project-related inquiries and concerns.


2. Mitigate excess noise and light

Although there’s a handful of specialized activities, such as tunnel boring or horizontal directional drilling (HDD), where construction can’t be stopped until it’s completed, construction work hours are tailored to respect community needs and meet local noise bylaws.

Some of the best practices used during construction to minimize noise and light impacts are:

  • Enclosing noisy equipment, using noise regulation methods, and placing noise suppression on heavy equipment.
  • Directing exhaust of noisy equipment away from where people live.
  • Placing sound walls at strategic locations to minimize noise disturbances.
  • Night shift construction is usually minimized, and steps taken to reduce any noise-causing activities.
  • Using directional lighting, diffusion, coating on bulbs and turning off lights when they’re not being used. Note: some lights are left on during night hours for security reasons.


3. Control and suppress dust

Construction contractors typically have crews in place to maintain access roads during construction and to activate dust control measures when needed. Don’t be surprised to see workers spraying water onto dusty roads to control dust on dry windy days. Other steps taken to manage dust are:

  • Cleaning Equipment prior to leaving construction sites.
  • Mud, soil debris or foreign material tracked onto roads are cleaned as quickly as practical following equipment crossings.
  • Once the work is complete, crews re-establish vegetative cover to areas that have been disturbed.


4. Minimize traffic disruptions

The project develops traffic management plans to minimize disruptions to traffic and neighbours, including keeping construction traffic outside of the rush-hours. Traffic management usually involves:

  • Working with municipalities and provincial transportation departments to develop plans.
  • Incorporating traffic count information into traffic management plans.
  • Maintaining access, especially emergency vehicles, pedestrian and bicycle access.
  • Consulting residents and municipalities to develop notification plans that include traffic control, changeable message boards and signage.

Learn more about pipeline construction.