An uptick in traffic along Highway 58 in coming months will be a sure indicator that work is underway on Williams’ Virginia Southside Expansion of natural gas pipeline.

Tree cutting, the first step before construction can begin, is set to get underway in September, Williams spokesperson Tracey Moser told members of the Halifax County Local Emergency Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.

Moser, right of way specialist for Williams, serves as chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Commission.

Extra-long tractor-trailers bearing the weight of massive 80-foot pipe segments will travel through the county as Williams expands the existing Transco pipeline facilities in southern Virginia by next year.

The project is designed to consist of approximately 100 miles of new 24-inch diameter pipeline extending from the Transco mainline in Pittsylvania County and into Halifax, Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties before terminating in Brunswick County, Moser said.

Primarily designed to fuel Dominion Virginia Power’s new 1,300-megawatt electric power plant planned in Brunswick County, the pipeline will increase deliveries by 270,000 dekatherms per day.

Williams’ contract with Dominion calls for the pipeline to be operational by September 2015, weather permitting.

In addition, the expansion project will provide additional gas supply to Piedmont Natural Gas Company in North Carolina to serve its growing natural gas needs.

In order to push natural gas from Chatham all the way to Brunswick County, Williams is building a new, state-of-the-art 21,800-horsepower gas turbine compressor station near the existing Transco Station in Pittsylvania County.

Curious county residents already may have noticed increased activity near the Wilco-Bojangles Travel Plaza located on Highway 58 west of South Boston as hundreds of stacked steel pipe segments are lined up along the 20-acre storage site awaiting for construction to begin.

At that time, the South Boston staging site will begin to feed the construction of the expansion taking place locally along Williams’ existing 50-foot right of way.

Plans call for locating the proposed pipeline facilities with existing pipeline corridors or easements for approximately 90 percent of the total route, according to information on Williams’ Southside Expansion website.

“Williams is committed to working with landowners, as well as local, state and federal agencies, to design and construct the project in a manner that minimizes environmental and landowner impacts,” the website states.

“As we enter the construction phase of this project, we are committed to working with affected communities and property owners to ensure these new facilities are constructed in a prompt, safe and environmentally sensitive manner,” said A. J. Patel, Williams project manager.

Paula I. Bryant is the editor of The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at pbryant@gazettevirginian.com.