Columbia Gas settles on road repairs - Reaches $80M settlement with three communities
by Jessica Valeriani, Eagle Tribune
Officials in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover announced an $80 million settlement with Columbia Gas Tuesday afternoon to compensate the communities for road restoration and municipal claims and costs resulting from the Sept. 13 gas disasters.
At the Public Safety Center, Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan was joined by Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera and Lyne Savage, North Andover's interim town manager, as well as Mark Kempic, newly appointed Columbia Gas of Massachusetts president.
Flanagan said $57.1 million of the settlement will go toward road restoration, $10 million will go toward expense reimbursement and $12.8 million will go toward claims and losses incurred by the municipalities.
Of the $57.1 million for road repairs, Lawrence will receive $31.9 million, Andover will receive $13.9 million and North Andover will receive $11.3 million. The money was allocated based on the miles of impacted roads in each community.
Flanagan said the work on road repairs, which each community will do on its own, will begin this summer and take several years to complete. He said the settlement will completely fund the restoration of roads and sidewalks.
"The goal from the beginning has been to restore our defective roads and sidewalks to a condition that is better than it was on Sept. 13," he said. "Our commitment to curb-to-curb restoration is paramount in these negotiations and it is reflected in the final agreement."
In addition to road repairs, Flanagan said the money will allow Andover to "make strategic investments, infrastructure improvements, upgrades to public facilities and enhancements to public spaces."
The $10 million for expense reimbursement will be divided into a $5 million share for Lawrence, $3 million for Andover and $2 million for North Andover.
The remainder will be divided up into shares of not more than $6.4 million for Lawrence, $3.85 million for Andover and $2.56 million for North Andover.
“We all wish the number was higher,” said Rivera, who has expressed frustration with Columbia Gas over the past several months. “But if you take into account the time, value and money, and the cost of lengthy litigation ... This is a good deal.”