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West Toledo gas line breaks, locking up traffic for hours

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Construction crews with a bulldozer struck a 16-inch medium-pressure gas line on Upton Avenue at Central Avenue under I-475, clogging traffic for hours and forcing the evacuation of five homes.

THE BLADE/LORI KING
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A broken gas line in West Toledo Friday afternoon shut down busy roads, snarled traffic for hours, and sent police barreling along the berm of a gridlocked highway to help a woman in labor.

The 16-inch gas line near Upton and Central avenues was broken just after 2 p.m. by a bulldozer doing road construction, Columbia Gas spokesman Chris Kozak said.

The broken line was expected to be repaired today and gas restored to six homes who have been without since the line was shut off Friday evening, Mr. Kozak said.

With major roadways closed and I-475 closed in both directions between Monroe Street and I-75, traffic was at a standstill for almost four hours.

Police said a woman called 911 during the traffic congestion and told a call taker that she was in labor and stuck in traffic.

A Toledo police crew on Talmadge Road got onto the interstate and drove along the berm until they found the woman in her vehicle. One of the officers drove the woman’s vehicle to a local hospital, police said.

It was not clear to which hospital the woman was taken, although a Toledo Hospital spokesman said the woman did not show up there. A Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center spokesman did not have any information on whether the woman was there.

Toledo fire crews responding to the scene were carefully monitoring the air, Toledo fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld said. No readings indicated there was any immediate danger; however, five homes north of Upton and Central were temporarily evacuated as a precaution.

Several traffic lights were turned off while crews worked to reduce pressure to the line; roads reopened and traffic lights appeared operational by 6 p.m.

Crews took their time reducing pressure to the line to make sure all the first responders could safely get access to the line and monitor the potential threat of a flash fire.

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