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Gas Line Repairs Hit a Snag in Bethlehem

photo by: Alan Olson

Crews work to drain water from the site of a water line break Friday morning in Bethlehem,

BETHLEHEM – Routine work on a service line in Bethlehem turned into a larger situation when a nearby water main line ruptured, but work to fix that line was prevented by the gas company’s inability to locate their gas lines, making further work impossible.

Throughout Friday, traffic was throttled through West Bethlehem Road as one lane was partially obstructed by water department and Mountaineer Gas Co. crews working on lines buried underground. Bethlehem mayor Aaron Snider said Friday that crews had been fixing a service line on Thursday when the nearby main water line broke around 11:30 p.m.

Efforts to repair the water line were hampered when Mountaineer was unable to tell crews whether a gas line was buried nearby, halting repair work until the gas line could be located.

“While working on the other one, the (main) line took pressure and blew, I believe – that or else we just got extremely unlucky,” Snider said. “The main line burst in the process of repairing the other line, and they’re working on locating that now. … The original call they received was a service line break near Mallett Law, that happened around 11 a.m. (Thursday). In the process of getting that fixed, the other one blew probably around 11:30 p.m. that night.

“The gas company cannot tell us exactly where the line is. We’ve been waiting on the gas company since 12 o’clock last night, and we cannot dig without the company saying that it’s safe to dig, because of the pressure on the gas line,” he added. “We’re just playing it by ear, waiting for these guys to locate their line so we can move on, because we can’t get under our line without knowing where the gas line is.”

The combination of breaks, Snider said, was among the worst in the city’s recent history.

“This is one of the worst in a while. We usually have line breaks out on Ridgecrest (Road), but the gas company’s always very quick in getting us a location, and we’re usually able to get it taken care of fairly quickly. We haven’t had a line break like this to my knowledge, or to a lot of the crew’s knowledge, in a very, very, very long time.”

Maintenance crews have been working through the night, with new shifts and contractors brought on to relieve the workers. If Mountaineer Gas is able to locate their line in a timely manner, Snider hopes that water should be restored by Saturday, and that service line work will resume next week.

“We’ve been getting them rotated out on shifts, sending guys home here and there, and we have a crew, H.P. Excavating, coming in to help relieve our guys,” Snider said. “… If we can get the OK from the gas company to dig on our line or the other side, this is something that should be taken care of by the end of the night, as long as everything goes according to plan. As long as the gas company gives us the OK – that’s the biggest issue right now.

“Our guys will go home – there’s nothing imperative that I need them to work on through the weekend.

He advised that any resident who experienced a loss of water, or water pressure, should enact a 48-hour boil order after service is restored.

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