Bend gas leak forces road closures, evacuations

Utility confirms natural gas line was unmarked

Gas leak halts Bend traffic, business

BEND, Ore. - A scene lately dominated by hardhats and machinery was joined by police and firefighters Tuesday morning, after an excavator hit an unmarked natural gas line.

"It's a little freaky -- you don't expect that when you come into work every day," said Arco gas station employee Jordan Travers."It was a really strong aroma -- it smelled like gas."

Arco is located right in the middle of the Murphy Road construction project -- an area dominated by orange cones and closures for months as ODOT and the city of Bend tackle the $27 million project.

Crews are working  to remove stop lights on the Bend Parkway and add an overpass to Murphy Road.

Shari's Restaurant across the street also was evacuated and closed for more than an hour, as police shut down the intersection of Third Street and Murphy Road.

ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said the crews with Hamilton Construction of Springfield didn't know the gas line was there when they begun digging.

"It wasn't on any of our maps or any of our notices," Murphy said. "The fortunate part was there was no spark, there was no ignition and people were safe."

Safe, but certainly a scare for some. A gas attendant told NewsChannel 21 as soon as he smelled the odor, he jumped in his truck and left.

Cascade Natural Gas officials said  they made a mistake.

"Unfortunately, the pipe they hit was not on our maps to be located," said spokesman Mark Hanson. "It's not a common occurrence, and so unfortunately that's how it was struck."

Hanson said the break did cut gas service to a few customers, but he expected everything to be fixed before Wednesday.

City officials didn't return NewsChannel 21's phone calls on the matter.

Murphy said the leak only shut down the project for a couple hours, and the crews were soon back their the road work.

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