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WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2007
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Priceville gas line break shuts Alabama 67

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

PRICEVILLE — An equipment operator with the Alabama Department of Transportation ruptured a gas line Tuesday, closing Alabama 67 for more than two hours, according to Bobby Smith, maintenance superintendent of DOT's District 1 office in Tanner.

Smith said the worker was using excavating equipment in an effort to determine the cause of a sinkhole in the southbound lane at about 9 a.m., across from 67 Auto Salvage, when he snagged the gas line.

Smith said that because of the potential seriousness of the situation, DOT closed both lanes to traffic, rerouting motorists to Alabama 36. DOT guided those traveling east to west, from Somerville toward Priceville, onto Black Road and those traveling in the opposite direction onto New Center Road.

He said DOT reopened the northbound lane about 11:30 a.m., using flaggers to keep traffic flowing.

"Joe Wheeler reported the sinkhole Monday morning," Smith said. "We put in asphalt to fill the hole and level it up. (Tuesday) morning it caved in again, and we knew something serious was going on under there."

It only got worse when the
driver of the excavator ruptured the line, Smith said.

Smith said that after gas company employees repaired the line, DOT workers filled the sinkhole and capped it with asphalt.

"The delay afterwards that kept the traffic to one lane in that section of highway was to give the asphalt time to cool off and harden," he said. "Traffic too quickly across it would have caused it to start sinking again."

Smith said six people worked on the sinkhole, including the flaggers.

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