To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue a right-of-way permit with respect to a natural gas distribution pipeline within Valley Forge National Historical Park
STATEMENT OF LENA MCDOWALL, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS CONCERNING H.R. 7952, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO ISSUE A RIGHT-OF-WAY PERMIT WITH RESPECT TO A NATURAL GAS DISTRIBUTION PIPELINE WITHIN VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK.
JUNE 14, 2022
Chair Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 7952, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue a right-of-way permit with respect to a natural gas distribution pipeline within Valley Forge National Historical Park.
The Department supports H.R. 7952
H.R. 7952 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue a right-of-way permit for the relocation of an existing covered pipeline segment to the specific proposed realignment of Valley Forge Road and North Gulph Road within Valley Forge National Historical Park. The bill would prohibit the right-of-way permit from allowing any expansion, upgrade or improvement of the covered pipeline segment except as may be required by law for the safe operation and maintenance of the pipeline. Further, the bill limits the scope of the authority to grant the right-of-way permit only to the covered pipeline segment as described in the bill.
The relocation of the existing covered pipeline segment to the proposed realignment of Valley Forge Road and North Gulph Road will enable the completion of the final phase of a major four-phase Pennsylvania state-funded transportation project to improve the traffic flow around Valley Forge National Historical Park associated with US Route 422. The previous three phases of this project eased traffic in other places but increased traffic approaching the park entrance. The final phase of the project, which would address traffic impacts to the park, has been funded.
This relocation of North Gulph Road is highly beneficial to the park as it will reconnect approximately eight acres of disconnected National Park Service owned lands to the park, create an appropriate and scenic main park gateway entrance, and relocate the large traffic intersection away from the park. The relocation will make it possible to regrade and pave the former roadbed as a multiuse trail that will connect to an external trail network and public transit. This would significantly improve the visitor experience and visitor access to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
The project will also resolve a safety issue by enabling the replacement of an undersized culvert and alterations to the road configuration that would eliminate road hazards and improve safe pedestrian access.
Multiple utilities currently occupy the existing road including the covered natural gas pipeline, a buried water line, and aerial telecom and electrical poles with multiple co-locators. These utilities service the local community and were installed prior to National Park Service ownership with authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Resolving the utilities issue is the last critical step necessary to advance this phase of the North Gulph Road relocation project. The National Park Service has general authority to issue right-of-way permits for the water line, aerial telecom lines, and electric poles but not for the existing natural gas line. Once a right-of-way for the relocation of the covered natural gas pipeline can be issued, compliance and land transfer documents can be finalized, and construction can begin.
Chair Neguse, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.