Ohio River’s buried secret

It took engineering savvy in 1947 and again in 2015 to install Cincinnati’s pipeline

For six-plus decades, two 12-inch natural gas lines placed on the bottom of the Ohio River provided reliable service to Greater Cincinnati homes and businesses. But with the end of their useful lives drawing near, it was time to replace the vintage 1947 lines.

Crews accomplished this feat in July 2015. A new 16-inch pipeline now provides service from Covington, Ky., to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Installing the new natural gas pipeline took some engineering savvy. Unlike the 1947 lines that rested on the riverbed, the new line was dug 115 feet below the river bottom. With directional drilling technology, crews tunneled a 2,250-foot path through shale and limestone in one month. To lay the line, sections of welded pipe were pulled through the opening from Ohio to the Kentucky side by using the same drilling rods that created the new path. With natural gas use increasing 4-1/2 times since 1950, the new pipeline will provide Duke Energy customers with safe and reliable service for at least another 70 years.