Southern Connecticut Gas technicians discovered and contained a gas leak coming from under High Street in front of ongoing construction at Jonathan Edwards College Saturday night, and the crews investigating the story said the gas posed no threat to students.
The foreman at the scene said the leak may have been caused by the renovation work currently being done on the college, although he said he did not know for sure the exact cause of the leak.
New Haven firefighters and police officers first checked Branford College, Dwight Hall and other buildings along the street to find the source of a reported leak and had blockaded all entrances to High Street by about 7 p.m.
With the help of technicians from Southern Connecticut Gas, police officers determined that the gas was coming from near Jonathan Edwards, an officer at the scene said. By 9 o’clock, technicians at the scene were attending to the problem.
It is likely that while construction crews were working on the 75-year-old college, the dirt underground resettled, which would have put extra strain on a gas pipe beneath the street, causing it to break, the foreman said. He said his crew determined that the leak was coming from the street in front of Jonathan Edwards, but “not near any buildings.”
Earlier in the evening, police received a call from a passerby who reported smelling a pocket of gas while traveling along High Street, an officer at the scene said.
By 7:15 p.m., NHPD officers had blocked off the entrances to High Street from cars and pedestrians. Yellow “Do Not Cross” tape spanned the entrances along Elm Street, Old Campus’s High Street Gate and the walkway between Jonathan Edwards and Branford colleges.
A police car blocked the vehicular entrance to High Street — which is one way — at its intersection with Chapel Street. Police officers told pedestrians and drivers to go around the gaseous zone by traveling along York Street, which runs parallel to High Street.
After placing a wooden barrier along the entrance to High Street at Chapel Street, NHPD officers began leaving the scene around 8 p.m.
By 9 o’clock Saturday evening, at least five workers from Southern Connecticut Gas were using heavy machinery to dig into the street in front of the college near the walkway between Jonathan Edwards and Branford colleges. The street had reopened by Sunday morning.
Officials from Yale’s facilities department could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Students who were redirected by police officers Saturday night reacted with annoyance but did not express major concern or ask officers many questions.
“It was an inconvenience because they taped off the High Street Gate while it was really cold outside,” Old Campus resident Liz Lee ’11 said.
Although crews found a leak, one police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said the large response was slightly out of proportion.
“There was a lot going on for such a little thing,” he said.
Construction on Jonathan Edwards is expected to be completed during summer 2008.