By MARY POLETTI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The potential impact of a proposed oil pipeline in the region became clearer Wednesday during a public open house in Quincy.
Oil pipeline company Enbridge offered more details of its proposed Flanagan South pipeline to a buzzing crowd at the Holiday Inn, seeking to answer residents' questions about construction, environmental, safety and other considerations on the massive project.
The open house represented the Canadian company's first public presentation since the company announced last month it will proceed with the roughly 600-mile proposed pipeline between Flanagan, Ill., and Cushing, Okla.
It reflected a pair of dominant themes -- officials' excitement about the pipeline's job creation possibilities and area residents' curiosity about its impact on their land.
Lorraine Little, senior manager of public affairs for Enbridge, said open houses this week along the pipeline path had garnered "a great reception" and had showcased a great deal of public curiosity about the project, which is expected to create thousands of construction jobs along six 100-mile construction segments.
"Our purpose, really, with the open houses this week is to get people educated and also to hear any specific community concerns, questions (and) landowner questions," Little said.
Pending government permits, the pipeline will carry 775,000 barrels a day of crude oil and will complete a network of pipelines that carry crude oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Texas oil refineries lining the Gulf of Mexico.
Little said Enbridge expects to file for permits in the next month and begin construction in mid-2013, with the pipeline anticipated to become operational in mid-2014.
In the meantime, the company will focus this year on design, permitting and agreements with landowners along the pipeline path, project manager Jerrid Anderson said.
Specific property impact
A map at Wednesday's meeting showed for the first time the precise planned path of the pipeline, which will pass through Adams and Brown counties in West-Central Illinois and Lewis, Marion and Shelby counties in Northeast Missouri.
The pipeline would cross the Mississippi River just north of Quincy and west of Spring Lake Estates. While the existing Spearhead pipeline, whose path Flanagan South largely is expected to follow, runs underneath the Spring Lake area, Flanagan South would jog north to avoid disrupting Spring Lake, the most substantial development directly adjacent to Spearhead since its construction in the 1960s.
Chuck Bevelheimer, Quincy's director of planning and development, said he was glad to see the project will avoid Spring Lake, where he had anticipated potential logistical difficulties.
In fact, Bevelheimer said, "from my first-blush review" the pipeline will fall outside the city's zoning boundaries, meaning no city permits will be required.
Little said a local focus group held in January, when the project proposal first became public, also indicated concern about the pipeline's impact on Spring Lake.
She said the company has been in touch with landowners along the path and extended personal invitations to those landowners, who swamped a table staffed with right-of-way specialists.
Those specialists helped landowners locate their specific tracts of land in map books and discussed concerns with them.
Among the landowners in attendance was Reaugh Broemmel of Quincy, who with her husband owns farmland along the Flanagan South path.
"I was definitely interested in when the project might begin to impact my area," Broemmel said. "That question has been answered within a parameter."
Of equal concern is the financial impact of the project, Broemmel said. She expressed concern that, depending on the timing of construction, it might harm any unharvested crops on her land.
Landowners will be compensated with three separate payments, Anderson said -- one for the fair-market land value of a 50-foot-wide easement, one for rental of additional construction workspace and one for any crop damage.
Anderson said Enbridge land agents are working one-on-one with landowners. He named agreements to use their land as a high priority for the company this year.
Public officials, who attended a briefing with Enbridge representatives before the open house, sounded a different tune: renewed excitement about the economic impact of Flanagan South and the construction jobs it will create.
Quincy will fall roughly in the middle of two 100-mile construction spreads. One would begin in Mason County, south of Peoria, and run west to cross the Mississippi River and end in southeastern Lewis County; the other one would pick up in Lewis County and run through Northeast and Central Missouri to end in Saline County, northwest of Columbia.
Each spread, at its peak, will play host to roughly 500 construction workers, Little said -- perhaps even more.
With Quincy one of the largest communities along either spread, Bevelheimer said the challenge is to figure out how to capitalize, from an economic perspective, on the number of workers on both sides.
"There's a year period, potentially, where we'll have 500 workers coming in and out of Quincy," he said. "That's a huge economic boon to the hospitality industry, service, grocery stores."
In addition to the direct impact on service industries, general contractors and subcontractors also will factor into the project. Anderson said it will be next year before Enbridge begins to let bids for those companies.
The construction jobs are expected to make up the bulk of any job creation associated with the project.
The pipeline also will bring with it a new pumping station in the vicinity of the existing Spearhead pipeline's pumping station north of Quincy. Although Enbridge technicians in the region monitor those stations daily, Little said she does not expect permanent pumping station jobs to be created.