Natural gas leak continues in Fort Myers on State Road 31

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Natural gas continues leaking form a broken line on State Road 31 off Palm Beach Boulevard. WINK News has received conflicting reports regarding the timeline for repairs.

A Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson told WINK News the work would be done by the end of the day Friday. However, TECO Energy, the company that owns the gas line, said it would be complete by the end of the week.

There’s no sign the road will reopen anytime soon because the scene looks just like it did on Thursday and the day before. For now, the scene remains lined with caution tape and closed road signs.

Gas mixes with the groundwater and then spews it into the air. As the natural gas shoots upward, it makes contact with the groundwater, resulting in a visible mist.

A question many WINK News viewers have been asking is whether or not natural gas is dangerous.

The leak itself does not pose any significant risk, since the natural gas dissipates into the air, and the groundwater helps dampen any spark potentiality.

WINK News spoke with FDOT employee Janella Newsome about what’s being done to repair the leak.

“My understanding is it’s a very complex job anytime you’re dealing with gas, and so I know that they’re erring on the side of caution and doing all that they can to make the repairs as expeditiously as they possibly can and as safely as they possibly can,” Newsome said.

FDOT will not name the company that hit the gas line.

Questions remain: If the contracting company called 811 before drilling to prevent hitting a gas line? Did someone come out and mark where the gas line was? Or did the contractor miss it somehow because it was 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday when the leak happened? WINK News continues to look for these answers and more.

FDOT encourage motorists to seek alternate routes and allow ample time for travel. Here are the suggested alternate routes:

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.

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