Nearly two months after a huge gas pipeline fire, crews have discovered more than a dozen other shallow spots along Kapahulu Avenue. City officials are now weighing their options as they try to move forward with the $4 million project to repave the busy roadway from the Honolulu Zoo to the H-1 Freeway.
Hawaii Gas crews have been repairing the damaged line and lowering a service lateral to one of the restaurants for the last couple of weeks. They should be done by the end of next week.
The contractor, Road Builders, has been using a ground penetrating radar to try and locate any shallow utilities, according to city officials.
An asphalt milling machine hit a shallow pipe carrying synthetic natural gas on June 15, sending 20 foot flames into the air.
The main line was installed in 1977. The pipe was only 8 inches below the surface due to existing electrical conduits directly below the pipe.
City officials said the project is about 55% done. Road Builders recently discovered up to 17 other shallow spots, according to officials. They're expecting to find out next week just how much it will cost to use potholing technology, where crews excavate certain locations
"It does involve a lot of effort and disruption for traffic and everything," explained Mark Yonamine, deputy director of the Department of Design and Construction. "We have to balance against potholing, which would mean digging up a lot of the street, versus using the existing as built plans and whatever information we have from the other utilities," he said.
The project was supposed to wrap up in August, but Yonamine is now hoping the work will be done by the end of the year. The accident caused a total of $614,000 in damage, including the cost of gas released, according to a report that Hawaii Gas filed with the Public Utilities Commission.
Yonamine said the city is still looking into who is responsible for the accident.
Hawaii Gas issued this statement:
"Hawaii Gas has provided the location of our pipelines in the project area. We do not provide the depth of pipelines because pipeline depths can, and often do, change over time due to circumstances beyond a utility's control (for example, road resurfacing, changes in grade, erosion, etc.) Under Hawaii law, excavators are required to confirm the depth of underground pipelines before starting any excavation work. Some methods used by excavators include hand digging, potholing and use of ground penetrating radar. It's important to ensure safety at all stages of a project," said Thomas Young, executive Vice President of Hawaii Gas.
Hawaii News Now contacted Road Builders for comment, but did not receive a response.