Gas is spewing from a broken line on State Road 31, off Palm Beach Boulevard, closing SR-31 to traffic in both directions, and it could take awhile for repairs to be completed.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, it could take three days or more for crews to complete the necessary repairs. FDOT suggests taking the routes listed below to avoid the area.
- Businesses and residents on the closed portion of State Road 31 will have to access State Road 31 from State Road 78.
- If headed north on State Road 31 from State Road 80, take State Road 80 to Interstate 75 north to State Road 78 and veer off to exit number 143, which will put you on State Road 78. Go east on State Road 78 until you get to State Road 31, then you can travel north on State Road 31.
- If headed south on State Road 31 to State Road 80, take State Road 78 west to I-75 south, then exit at State Road 80 and veer off to exit number 141.
The break happened around 2 a.m., Wednesday.
“Good luck to everybody getting home because I know what it is to try to get home, and you can’t,” Maria Garcia said, “so, you know, best of luck.”
Crews were drilling near an 8-inch TECO Peoples Gas line that feeds out to Marco Island, about 14 feet underground, when they struck the line.
Fire crews are assisting with road closures and hazards.
The leak itself does not pose any major risk, as the natural gas is dissipating into the air, and leaking groundwater will help mitigate any spark potential.
“Safety is our number one concern for our residents and passer-throughs, so we’re taking this with a high abundance of caution. FDOT and TECO will have people here throughout the day working nonstop to hopefully get this mitigated sooner or later,” Deputy Chief Jake Lamb declared.
According to TECO, no customers have lost natural gas service.
Neither the fire department nor TECO Gas has said much about the company responsible. They also haven’t said whether someone marked the natural gas line before the company started to drill.
The SR-31 bridge remains shut down to Bayshore Road, but Bayshore Road itself is open. The leak’s traffic consequences will affect anyone who lives near Fort Myers Shores or Babcock Ranch.
Back in 2010, a construction crew ruptured a TECO gas line causing a massive fire in the area of Colonial Boulevard and State Road 82.
Huge flames burned on and on and thousands lost gas service for days.
An investigation found Posen Construction knew there was a gas line there but did not locate the line before doing work.
OSHA fined the company $70,000.
As of Thursday morning, crews were still working on the leak.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.