North Shore Gas completes major infrastructure project in time for winter


That is how Manager of Transmission Engineering Kyle Frayn described the engineering and logistics challenge of completing the rebuild of the North Shore Gas Grayslake Gate Station in Libertyville, which went into full operation weeks ahead of its Halloween deadline.

The gate station, built in the 1940s, is the backbone of the North Shore Gas distribution system. More than 80% of the natural gas used in Lake County enters the distribution system at high pressure at the gate station.

At the gate station, high-pressure gas is depressurized and sent out to the utility’s service area.

As the gate station approached 80 years, it was critical from a safety and environmental standpoint that it be demolished and rebuilt.

The gate station could only be out of commission between May and October, meaning that complicated demolition and construction had to be planned meticulously and completed flawlessly.

Four years of planning went into the project, but the COVID-19 pandemic almost forced North Shore Gas to put off the effort for a year. A “point-of-no-return” decision had to be made in mid-April. North Shore Gas project managers determined that their level of preparation would allow them to complete the work safely in 2020, despite the restrictions of pandemic protocols. 

Demolition and construction went on for three months, including “round-the-clock” periods when construction shifts worked seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

More than 75 construction workers were on the job, as well as 40 people who were involved in engineering, planning and project management.

As North Shore residents fired up their furnaces this fall, most did not realize that an engineering marvel continued to keep natural gas flowing across Lake County.

The station received critical improvements to safety, security and the environment, including a completely redesigned modern station with increased reliability and resiliency; redundancy in dual gas pressure control; two process heating runs; surveillance, remote monitoring and physical security measures; and consolidated ownership of the gate station and distribution system. Before the rebuild, the gate station was owned by the company that delivered high-pressure natural gas to the region. North Shore Gas now controls the entire system.

The recently completed project is under consideration for two national engineering awards.

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