Workers with hardhats bearing the NEXUS pipeline logo began digging Tuesday on Rt. 58 across from Reserve Avenue.
Utility inspector Gary Strait said accessways are being installed on each side of the highway for construction vehicles and crews.
The site prep marks the first work inside the Oberlin city limits for the controversial natural gas transmission line, which has been the subject of debate and ire for the past several years.
Adam Parker, a media spokesman for NEXUS, said pipeline construction activities along the 255-mile route through Ohio began in March and will continue into the third quarter of 2018 when the line is placed into service.
The next step involves surveyors marking the route, which will be followed by clearing the brush and trees. The pipe will be strung along the work area, welded together, and then the trench will be dug.
If large quantities of rock are found during trenching operations, the crew will use specialized equipment or explosives for removal, according to NEXUS’ website.
The pipe will be treated with a corrosion-resistant coating and placed into the trench, which will be back-filled.
Pipeline construction is similar to a moving assembly line, Parker said. Specialized teams are each assigned to perform a single, specific task along small sections of the pipeline.
Once each team completes its task, another team follows closely behind to complete the next stage of construction. This is to ensure there is minimal disturbance to landowners and the environment during pipeline construction and restoration, he said.
Rachael Hood, president of an Oberlin College student group called Students for Energy Justice, learned from the News-Tribune that crews had started work. She said no plans are in place for protest.
Steve Hammond, a co-founder of the group Citizens for Safe and Sustainable Energy, was also surprised to hear NEXUS had made its start in Oberlin. He said protests are certain to happen once word gets out around town.
“I know that this is a really sensitive place, so if protesters come up, we’ll go to a muster point,” Strait said.
A muster point is a designated place or an area where all employees assemble in case of an emergency.
“We’ll hold construction until we get a rep out here or the police show up,” he said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.