PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The flow of traffic has returned to normal in downtown Providence after a gas leak caused road closures and evacuations Thursday morning.
According to acting Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Paul Picozzi, a construction crew hit the pressurized line around 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the area of Dorrance and Westminster Streets.
The potential gas threat was cleared within about 30 minutes but it took hours for National Grid to fully repair the 16-inch cast iron pipe.
“There’s no danger to the public,” Picozzi noted.
Residents were warned to not be alarmed if they smell mercaptan, which gives natural gas its odor, while the repairs were being made.
Four buildings were evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
“Our main concern is to monitor for high readings of gas and then evacuate all civilians in surrounding areas,” Picozzi explained. “Once we get our readings, if we don’t have any readings, civilians can return to their buildings.”
“We were open for business. We had customers sitting down, having breakfast, and had to get up and go somewhere else,” said Daniel Crenca, the owner of nearby NicoBella’s Family Restaurant.
Even though businesses in the area are now back open, Crenca said he was forced to close his restaurant for the day due to lost time in preparing food for Thursday night.
The gas line was ruptured by Cardi Construction, according to National Grid spokesperson Ted Kresse. Eyewitness News reached out to the company and a representative said they’re working to figure out what caused their crew to hit the line.
It was the second time in less than a week that a construction crew hit a gas line, resulting in an evacuation. The first was Saturday on Point Street.
“There’s been a lot of construction downtown but the gas lines are all premarked prior to construction,” Picozzi said. “So how does this happen? You’ll have to ask the construction company.”
RIPTA detoured several routes due to the gas leak.