Two gas leaks spark concern

Editor & Publisher

Two ruptured high-pressure buried gas lines on Longboat Key in two weeks is a cause of concern for Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi.

The most recent rupture occurred last week when a four-inch gas line was broken by an excavator crew. The event, just like the gas line breach a week prior led to thousands of vehicles being funneled from Gulf of Mexico Drive through the Bay Isles residential neighborhoods in order to keep north-south traffic flow.

The most recent gas leak, according to Dezzi, took place when Comcast was working underground. The repair was extremely difficult because of the water intrusion. Dezzi says the water kept filling in where the repair needed to be made so the town of Longboat Key had to set up pumping stations so a temporary fix could be accomplished.

The Fire Department got the call about the gas break just before noon last Wednesday and soon TECO gas company was on the scene as was the Fire Department and Public Works.

Dezzi said the temperature was in the 90s with 100 percent humidity and often raining, making conditions brutal for the mid-afternoon undertaking.

What has Dezzi concerned is the possibility that we may see many more of these situations in the months to come.

“We may have more of these because when they start the undergrounding project, they have to rely on the accuracy of the agency responsible for tracking and mapping all underground development in the right-of-ways. Water lines, sewer lines, gas lines, cable lines and soon power lines will all run like an integrated underground circulatory system in the years to come.

The idea of funneling cars through the residential neighborhood also becomes far more daunting and problematic when traffic more than quadruples during the busy season.

For now, the road has re-opened, the line is repaired and all is back to normal. But on the other issue of the undergrounding and the inherent vulnerability of the existing infrastructure, the actual work will soon start on the $50 million town-wide undergrounding project.

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