Construction crews hit gas lines again

, camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com

DULUTH - Improvements designed to ease traffic at a busy intersection ended up snarling it Thursday when workers struck a gas line for the second time this week at Pleasant Hill Road and Buford Highway.

Earlier in the week, a gas leak shut down Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

A contractor for the Georgia Department of Transportation struck a 4-inch line at about 4:30 p.m., said spokeswoman Teri Pope. Authorities were forced to stop traffic in both directions on Pleasant Hill Road during rush hour while workers for Atlanta Gas Light repaired the damage.

Three nearby businesses were also evacuated, said Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department. The repairs were finished by 5:49 p.m. and the road was reopened about 20 minutes later.

On Wednesday, a BellSouth crew moving phone lines for GDOT struck a different 4-inch line at the same intersection and closed Pleasant Hill Road in both directions from North Berkeley Lake Road to Buford Highway from noon to 2 p.m.

Transportation officials were embarrassed by the events, Pope said.

"Our goal is to keep traffic moving and not stopping it. It's very frustrating," said Pope, especially since the road was shut down at rush hour. "It's not a good thing."

Even before Thursday's leak, the DOT had scheduled a gas safety meeting with everyone working on the project, including contractors, subcontractors and utility workers, to help prevent any future mishaps.

Last year, The Georgia Department of Transportation selected E.R. Snell Contractors, of Snellville, for the $34.6 million contract to rebuild the intersection. According to plans, crews will tunnel Pleasant Hill below U.S. Highway 23 and a nearby railroad crossing.