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Natural gas leak causes major traffic delays on Thruway

In vehicle traffic law news, a significant portion of the New York State Thruway was temporarily shut down earlier this week due to a serious construction accident, causing significant backup and lengthy delays.

On late Wednesday morning, a construction crew - tasked with widening the Thruway near Guilderland, New York - was attempting to repair a damaged sewer line when they accidentally struck a 12-inch steel transmission line for natural gas, releasing a noxious cloud that could be seen/heard both from the road and in nearby neighborhoods.

"There was an enormous hissing sound," said John Williams, a passing motorist. "It looked like a small tornado of dust, and a lot of construction workers were running around frantically."

While natural gas is lighter than air and generally dissipates rather easily, safety officials were nevertheless concerned about the location of a nearby overpass under which the natural gas could easily begin to accumulate.

Consequently, nearby neighborhoods and businesses were evacuated by public safety officials and a six-mile stretch of the Thruway between Exits 23 and 24 was closed in both directions until the situation could be brought under control.

"We assume the worst-case scenario," said Sean Maguire, a Guilderland Fire Chiefs' Association spokesperson. "The bigger concern here is with the volatility of that gas, the risk of an explosion."

Workers from National Grid were able to eventually fix the gas rupture at around 12:15 p.m. and the roadblocks in both directions were lifted roughly 35 minutes later.

A mid-morning breeze was credited in helping to clear out the gas.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident and traffic is now moving smoothly along that portion of the Thruway.

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

A ticket for violating a vehicle traffic law can result in serious consequences, including fines, points against your license, increased insurance rates, license suspension/revocation or even jail time. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has received a citation, don't just dismiss it.

Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

The Times Union "Gas line break: Debris, dust and chaos near Thruway" Aug. 10, 2011

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