Local News

Another Gas Leak Discovered In Downtown Raleigh

Posted November 21, 2003

— For the second straight day Friday, a gas leak was detected in downtown Raleigh.

Unlike Thursday's leak, which caused power to be turned off and businesses to be evacuated for several hours, there have been no evacuations or power outages Friday. But according to investigators, Davie Street will be closed between Fayetteville Street Mall and Blount Street until 6 a.m. Saturday.

Though both leaks were detected in roughly the same area, next to the Progress Energy Plaza construction project, officials from Public Service of North Carolina described Friday's leak as a strange coincidence unrelated to Thursday's mess. Workers said they planned to dig up a portion of Davie Street to plug Friday's leak.

Workers detected Friday's leak as they followed up Thursday's repair effort. Armed with strange looking sensors, they patrolled downtown Raleigh throughout the day to see if there were any more leaks and eventually found a suspicious area on Davie Street.

Workers think Thursday's leak happened because of improperly reinforced electrical conduit buried above and below the Blount Street gas main. Under the weight of constant heavy construction equipment, a conduit gradually weakened and collapsed, causing the gas pipe to burst.

As a precaution Thursday, Progress Energy cut power to a five-block area downtown, sending thousands of workers home.

Alan Phillips, general manager of DiBella Ristorante in City Market, estimated that he lost nearly $2,000 in business during Thursday's gas leak and five-hour blackout.

"It affected all of us," Phillips said. "All the merchants in the area are very upset."

If the problem was caused by poor construction, Phillips said merchants deserve compensation.

"Something should be taken care of as far as the merchants in this particular area, because it was quite an impact," he said.

Progress Energy representative Garrick Francis said a final determination in that area had not yet been made.

"There's a process that all this kind of goes to," Francis said. "When we get a final determination of the cause of what happened, we'll have to take a look at who's affected and how things work out."

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