All roads have reopened following a natural gas leak that caused a portion of the downtown Madison area to be closed for nearly three hours.
Early this morning, contractors working in the basement of the former Madison Area Technical College building along the 200 block of Wisconsin Avenue hit gas piping to cause the leak, according to Madison Gas & Electric.
The Madison Fire Department was dispatched at 8:48 a.m. to the scene and released a safety alert at 9:03 a.m. warning residents to avoid the area of East Johnson, Wisconsin Avenue, North Carrol Street and East Dayton in downtown Madison. Madison police helped set up a safety perimeter around West Johnson Street.
MGE and Madison firefighters worked to ventilate the building while the gas service was shut down.
The fire department then checked the building to ensure all areas were thoroughly ventilated before confirming it was safe for traffic to pass through the area. They turned the scene over to MGE at approximately 11:45 a.m..
Roads were re-opened by noon. However, the closed roads made for traffic and long delays. The railroad gates on East Washington were also lowered during the gas leak and remained stuck for a period of time, causing further traffic.
The Madison Fire Department released a report that confirmed the gas leak occurred after a three-inch gas main was compromised during construction in the old MATC building. Equipment inside also had to be disabled after the leak.
“After gas service was shut down, it was determined that a piece of construction equipment might still be running inside the building,” the fire department stated. “Firefighters and Incident Command worked closely with MGE to determine when it would be safe to enter the building to check on this piece of equipment. The equipment was located and turned off.”
The fire department also assured all workers on-site at the building were safely evacuated and sheltered off-site.
No mass evacuation was needed and there were no injuries reported.