Construction crews working to move a guardrail on Route 50 in Kirwan Heights accidentally broke a 10-inch natural gas transmission line, forcing emergency responders to shut down the busy road for nearly 20 hours Saturday.
The construction company, identified by as Green Acres, broke the line around 1 a.m. Saturday, causing natural gas to spew from the pipe across Route 50 from
“You wouldn’t believe it,” Lewis said. “It was like a rocket engine the way it was shooting out there.”
He said the transmission line is a main artery that delivers natural gas to the region.
Lewis said gas crews initially attempted to shut off service to the entire area, but there were concerns from the General Electric and Universal Stainless & Alloy plants about how that would disrupt overnight production. Instead, crews went to a gas house behind and used a bladder to cut off service to a portion of the area around 6 p.m.
Work to repair the rupture was finished by 8 p.m. Saturday, some 19 hours after the initial disruption. Lewis said emergency responders did not have to evacuate nearby homes or businesses because the wind dissipated the natural gas into the atmosphere.
“They were very lucky because … you could go up to the scene and smell it, but it wasn’t as bad the father away you went,” Lewis said.
Crews did have to detour traffic onto Interstate 79 near or onto Thoms Run Road.
“Some people being annoyed, but it wasn’t too bad,” Lewis said.