Water line leak leads to major telephone cable repair

By Bob Robinson

Star Staff

   A pinhole leak in a 3/4 inch galvanized pipe led to repairs being made to a major underground telephone cable serving 2,400 telephone customers in Elizabethton.
   The cable is located five feet below the surface of the roadway on G St. between Holly Lane and Dayton Place.
   Replacement underground cable, ordered last Wednesday, arrived on Friday, according to Joe Chintz, construction supervisor for Sprint.
   Telephone crews will begin splicing the new cable at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
   "We will be working around the clock until the work is completed in about 10 business days," Chintz said.
   Residences and businesses along G St., Pine Hill Rd., Gap Creek Rd., Milligan and Glanzstoff Highways are served by the underground telephone cable.
   "There should be no telephone service disruptions while the new cable is spliced and placed in service," Chintz added.
   Once Sprint's work is done, the surface of the roadway will be repaired by the City of Elizabethton.
   It all began last Friday, Feb. 1, when the pinhole leak was discovered in the City of Elizabethton Water Department service line.
   Troy Blevins, City of Elizabethton Water Distribution chief operator, said the leak was noticed after water came to the surface of the roadway.
   "Our biggest concern was water freezing on the roadway and causing an accident." Night-time temperatures dropped below freezing.
   Blevins said the City first notified "One Call of Tennessee" at its toll-free telephone number. State law requires One Call of Tennessee to be notified before any digging begins.
   In turn, the One Call telephone operator notified utilities, such as United Cities Gas, Sprint, the television cable company and other utilities, to locate their respective underground lines.
   Utilities have three working days to mark the location of their underground facilities, unless it is an emergency where there is a threat to life or property. In those instances, utilities have two hours to mark the location of their underground facilities, Blevins explained.
   The various utilities with underground services lines on G St., including Sprint, marked their facilities but the depth is not normally indicated.
   "Most of the time, telephone cable is encountered 24 inches or less below the surface." However, the depth of Sprint's underground telephone conduit on G St. was five feet below the surface of the roadway.
   When City of Elizabethton crews bored under the surface of the roadway to replace the galvanized pipe with a copper pipe, Sprint's conduit was accidentally struck by the boring machine, Blevins said.
   Monday night, Feb. 4, Sprint crews made temporary repairs to the damaged conduit and underground telephone cable.
   Fiber optic cable, located in the same conduit, was not damaged.
   If all goes as planned, the telephone cable splicing will be completed by Feb. 25 and the roadway repaired.
   Until then, motorists, mindful of Murphy's Law, should proceed with caution when they encounter the barricades surrounding the spot of the pinhole leak in the water service line on West G St.