Columbia Gas is scheduled to launch a $4 million project this month to replace five miles of pipeline in the Northwest Boulevard area.

Columbia Gas is scheduled to launch a $4 million project this month to replace five miles of pipeline in the Northwest Boulevard area.

On Jan. 17, the company will host an open house to discuss details of its "major pipeline improvement project," which will include replacing 540 service lines to local homes and businesses.

That meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

It also will serve as a prelude to the work, which Columbia Gas officials said will start later this month and conclude by the end of 2013.

"This is part of something Columbia Gas is doing all across Ohio," said Shanelle Hinkle-Moore, an external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas. "We are investing in infrastructure over 25 years. We are investing over $2 billion.

"This is a program that's been around," she said. "It started in 2008."

The Upper Arlington project is estimated to cost slightly more than $4 million, Hinkle-Moore said.

The project area is north of Essex Road, south of Lane Avenue, east of North Star Road and west of Northwest Boulevard.

At the heart of the local project are plans to replace an existing steel pipeline that Hinkle-Moore said has been underground "for decades" with a plastic pipe specially designed for better durability and to provide more natural gas pressure to homes and businesses linked to it.

"The new system will be more efficient to operate," she said. "It will also facilitate economic development because we are upgrading the pressure from low pressure to medium pressure."

In addition to replacing the pipeline, which predominantly is located under roadways and other public rights of way, service lines from the pipeline to individual homes and businesses will be replaced.

Customers with indoor gas meters also will have them relocated to the outside of their homes so company officials no longer will have to enter residences to record gas use.

Those processes, Hinkle-Moore said, will require a temporary interruption of natural gas service to the homes, which is expected to take as long as two hours.

However, she added affected customers will be contacted in advance and Columbia Gas will make personal contact with customers prior to shutting off service and to schedule service restoration.

"We have taken on the cost of replacing customer service lines," she said. "We are doing that for free.

"The physical construction that customers will see that will impact them won't happen until after the open house."

The city of Upper Arlington is not involved in the Columbia Gas project.

However, Community Affairs Director Emma Speight, said local officials support the plan to update infrastructure.