Causeway detour leads to gas main breakage

Jun 29, 2016

Russells Mills Road between the Elm Street and Slocum Road intersections is currently blocked off due to a gas main breakage that may be related to the causeway construction.

A contractor for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) allegedly hit a gas main across from the Cumberland Farms while installing detour signs for the slated July 6 construction that would shut down Gulf Road between Smith Neck Road and the Padanaram Bridge.

Engineer for the Town of Dartmouth Josh Medeiros said that the MassDOT contractor—who was not on site during the cleanup—did not call DigSafe before pile driving the signs into the ground.

“The pound in a metal stick with an air compressor, so when they hit it, it punctured right through the gas main,” said Medeiros. He explained that the gas main is a PVC pipe buried two- to three-feet underground.

“I told him [this morning] that he needed DigSafe before he started putting holes in the ground, and he said ‘No I don’t,’” said Medeiros. “You need 48 hours to mark [dig sites] out with DigSafe. It wasn’t marked out.”

The DigSafe website explains that in Massachusetts, excavation or boring must be marked using white paint, stakes, or other white markings on non-paved surfaces.

Neither a representative from contracting company John Rocchio Corporation (of Smithfield, Rhode Island) nor Project Manager Paul Cappelletti could be reached for comment on the incident.

Medeiros arrived on scene to make sure other utility lines were in tact. “They’re going to be shutting down this whole block,” he said.

Dartmouth Water Foreman Derek Martin was also on site. “I marked out the sewer and drain lines so they don’t hit those too,” he said.

The District No. 1 Fire Department was also on scene in case anything blew up, said Medeiros.

“People don’t realize how many things are underground,” he said, explaining that water, gas, and electric lines are all within striking zone.

“They have to repair the main. That was a brand new main too that got put in no more than 10 years ago,” said Medeiros. “They’re going to be here all night.”

Eversource—the gas company on site to respond to the damage—confirmed that no valid DigSafe order was put in by the contracting company. Eversource media relation Michael Durand did say that DigSafe orders were put in for locations both east and west of the breakage location.

Dartmouth resident Kim Bryant, who lives at 237 Russells Mills Road, said an authority checked his basement to make sure the gas line wasn’t compromised. He said the surrounding houses—235 and 236 Russells Mills Road—were also checked.

MassDOT is in charge of the $8,274,700-million project that will include roadway, drainage, structural, and lighting improvements along Gulf Road from the eastern edge of Apponagansett Park to the Padanaram Bridge, and Smith Neck Road from Gulf Road southerly 550 feet, causing Russells Mills Road to be part of the detour route.