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Gas line break forces evacuation

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Four Franklin homes were evacuated and electricity was shut off on North Main Street after a gas line was cut Tuesday.

Firefighters were called to the 700 block of North Main Street about 9:30 a.m. after an underground gas line was punctured, Franklin Fire Department spokesman Brad Epperson said. Power was cut to the block, and people were asked to leave their homes as a precaution, he said.

Gas was shut off within about an hour of the leak, and workers from Vectren continued to work on repairs after firefighters left at about 10:45 a.m., Epperson said. But power was still off on the block, he said.

People were allowed to return shortly after the gas leak was fixed and power was restored, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

The gas line break occurred south of the roundabout, where most of the road construction has been completed, but crews are still putting in new sidewalks. Workers were digging before pouring concrete for a new handicap accessible ramp when they hit the line, Underhill said.

Most of the underground work on North Main Street is being done in the third section of the project, located between the roundabout and Franklin post office.

“I think it was a combination of they lost track of where the line was and the line wasn’t maybe as deep as what they anticipated. Some of those ramps they need to dig a little bit deeper,” Underhill said.

Utility companies have been out frequently marking where underground lines are along North Main Street before contractors come out to dig different sections of the road, Underhill said. But as work drags on, marks become faded as dirt is moved and people walk over the ground, he said.

The gas line break is the second time workers have hit underground pipes in that area. In May, crews digging up the road accidentally broke sewer lines in the 600 and 800 blocks of North Main Street, causing sewage to back up in the basements of two houses.

A separate contractor that is building a new pedestrian walkway in the alley south of the Artcraft Theatre also hit a gas line earlier this summer, causing the fire department to shut down that section of North Main Street for about an hour.

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