Aptos gas line replaced and installed underground

Some residents fear more exposed lines may put them at risk

APTOS, Calif. - It started as a tree uprooted thanks to the rain.  Now, four days later, it has become much more.  Damage to a gas line is creating fear among those living along the busy road and headaches for those who drive it.  Utility crews are fixing a gas line in Aptos near the Redwood tree that fell Friday, taking out power and cell phone lines with it.

Soquel Drive is still closed near Rio Del Mar Road.  That's because PG&E said it's instead of just fixing the damaged gas line, now it's being replaced and installed underground, so it's less exposed.

"It is concerning because I think a lot of things are outdated," said Santa Cruz County resident Jeff Swall.

Swall said he loves living in Santa Cruz County for its hilly terrain and beautiful big trees.  But for those same reasons, PG&E said some old gas lines are exposed above ground.  The company said the pipe wasn't ruptured, didn't leak and service wasn't interrupted.  But crews are taking the opportunity to put it in a safer location.  Some residents said they weren't even aware some gas lines are above ground.

"Well, I think primarily it would be safer, you know to be underground.  I would imagine that way say a tree did fall down again," said Aptos resident Robin DeLorme.

We asked people in the area if they remember when a high-pressure transmission line exploded causing a gas-fueled fire in San Bruno in 2010.  Eight people died, many more had burn injuries and 38 homes were destroyed.  The National Transportation Safety Board later said weak oversight by regulators and poor inspection lead to the explosion. 

PG&E said the gas line in Aptos is 10 inches in diameter, while the one is San Bruno was triple in size.  Regardless of size, people we spoke with said they're glad to know PG&E is committed to putting this gas line in a better place.

"Anytime there's a gas line like that, I mean they're gonna have to take responsibility and make sure that there's detours right?  I mean safety is the first thing we're looking for as residents," Swall said.

PG&E said the road should be back open on Tuesday but crews will be out working on the gas line until the end of the week.  CHP said crews are still working on some power lines as well.

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