New details on Fort Myers gas line repairs

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

A ruptured gas line is expected to close State Road 31 for up to three days.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the gas line ruptured by a contractor on State Road 31 had been marked in advance.

“I thought they fix it right away. And it turns out, it’s going to take several days to fix it,” George Tuszynski said, from Babcock Ranch.

Tuszynski was not exactly thrilled to learn the intersection will be closed, maybe into the weekend. The drive-around will take an extra 20 minutes at least.

How did crews puncture it?

Right now, there is no exact answer.

Gas is mixing with water, spewing into the air, and a busy intersection remains shut down.

“I’m sure they followed protocol to the tee. It’s just unfortunate that this situation happened,” Janella Newsome said, director of public information for FDOT. “They need 24-hour access to that road so that they can bring in whatever heavy equipment or machinery that they might need for the repairs. So they don’t want anything to impede their progress.”

According to Newsome, a work crew hired by FDOT ruptured the gas line near State Road 31 and Palm Beach Boulevard.

But was the gas line properly marked?

According to FDOT, they think so.

The other question is: what’s taking so long to cap the leak?

Russell Guidici works to reinforce infrastructure, primarily pipes, on a daily basis. He told WINK News, “I mean, these things can be at 250 – 300 psi. There’s pretty substantial pressure on these lines. Water leaks we can stop live, but natural gas is much more challenging.”

TECO said the plan is to install a new pipe that will bypass the damage. Guidici informed WINK News that two to three days of work is not unusual.

“There are methods for putting what they call a slipstream where you basically go around the defect with a new pipe,” Guidici said.

TECO says the pipeline is 15 feet deep and delivers natural gas to approximately 25,000 customers. But the good news in all of this is that no customers have lost service.

“The bottom line is, they’re trying as expeditiously as they possibly can to fix the repairs, or complete the repairs,” Newsome said.

Until the work is done, FDOT said it has no choice but to keep the intersection of State Road 31 and Palm Beach Boulevard closed to all traffic.

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