Water line ruptured during construction

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   New construction on the Northern Connector got off to a rocky start Thursday when a Summers-Taylor bulldozer blade made unexpected contact with a city water line.
   Joe Morrell of Tennessee Department of Transportation said Summers-Taylor, prime contractor for the state, "evidently hit a 14-inch water line that was only about 3 inches underground. They were grubbing, cleaning off where they're going to build new ramps for the Northern Connector."
   Morrell said the incident occurred about 700 feet off Lovers Lane and U.S. Highway 19E.
   "They're going to rebuild that intersection. From what I understand it's going to be something like a cloverleaf," Morrell said.
   Troy Blevins, supervisor at Elizabethton Water Department, said Summers-Taylor apparently decided to grade a road up the hill to build a yard for parking equipment.
   "That wasn't part of the overall plan, so we weren't aware they were even going to be up there on top of that ridge -- which, I'm sure they didn't imagine our water line was up there either," Blevins said.
   The main 14-inch transmission line feeds a tank at Watauga Industrial Park.
   "They ruptured it but we had it repaired shortly thereafter, probably within an hour. It could have been a whole lot worse, but it wasn't as bad as we figured it would be," Blevins said.
   While city water maintenance crews worked to repair the line, they also went ahead and stalled another mainline valve "to isolate that section in case it happens again," Blevins said.
   "No one was without water but it did pull that whole area going up Stoney Creek down for a short period of time. But as quickly as they got it valved off, everything up that way returned to normal. It wasn't near as bad as it could have been," he said.
   He estimated up to 3,000 gallons of water gushed out before repairs could be made. The incident occurred around 9-9:30 a.m., Blevins said, and was repaired around 11 a.m., except for installation of the second valve.