Gas line break Thursday in Columbus causes day care evacuation, traffic delays

Published 12:46 pm Friday, October 29, 2010

A natural gas line break along Hwy. 108 in Columbus yesterday caused children to be&bsp; evacuated from a local day care and traffic to be rerouted for a couple of hours.

A two-inch PSNC natural gas line was split around 8:45 a.m. yesterday while contractors were working on drainage.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) has contracted work along Hwy. 108 between Blanton and Park Streets, including the construction of drainage, curb and guttering and a sidewalk.Sub-contractors accidentally cut into the line, which spewed out natural gas.

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The Columbus Fire Department evacuated Country Bear Day School, which is nearby on Park Street. A Country Bear employee said about 28 children were taken by a Polk County School bus to Stearns. The day school does drills for such evacuations, but hasnt had an actual evacuation in recent years.

No injuries were reported from the incident. While repairs were being made, traffic was rerouted. Vehicles traveling east on Hwy. 108 were detoured to U.S. 74; many vehicles had to turn around prior to the gas line break site in order to gain access to U.S. 74.

The break was capped quickly by workers, and natural gas crews arrived and repaired the leak shortly after 11 a.m. yesterday.

The town has its own crews overseeing the construction in an attempt to avoid hitting utility lines.

Another incident occurred on Wednesday during the construction as a result of heavy rains. Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe says a water leak occurred because the ground where work was done was saturated.

Estimates originally called for the construction to be done sometime in December, weather permitting.

The town agreed last week to install 12 street lights that match others in town during the sidewalk construction. The sidwalk will be placed on the same side of the street as Scoops N More and Bubbles Car Wash.