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Campus, city units respond to gas, water leaks

January 22, 2009 By John Lucas

Third Update (2 p.m.): Campus and city crews quickly contained significant gas and water main leaks Thursday in the area of the Biochemistry Building, 433 Babcock Dr.

Around 11:05 a.m., a water line broke on a sanitary sewer construction site east of Biochemistry. The trench flooded and its walls began to erode. Chunks of frozen earth and sidewalk fell onto a gas line, creating the second leak.

In response, UWPD evacuated several academic and research buildings in the area around University Avenue, Linden Drive, Babcock Drive and Henry Mall, causing traffic tie-ups, Madison Metro detours and class cancellations. A WiscAlert text message and mass email was sent to campus asking people to avoid the area.

By 12:10 p.m., both leaks were contained, allowing traffic to be reopened. All buildings were reopened soon after.

Those responding included FP&M, the Safety Department, Madison Fire and MGE.

There were no injuries. Damage estimates are not yet available, but several basements in the area experienced minor flooding.

Second Update (12:20 p.m.): The Madison Fire Department has declared an all-clear in the area surrounding the gas and water main breaks, but buildings are reopening one by one as fire alarms are reset. Both water and gas leaks have been contained. All streets near the affected area have reopened.  Service in some of the buildings may be limited when they reopen. Madison Fire officials will remain on the scene.

Update (12:15 p.m.): The gas leak has been identified and resolved. However, there is also a water main break in the same location that is  causing disruptions. Officials continue to advise that people stay out of the area and avoid University Avenue if at all possible. WiscAlert messages were sent to the campus community both through cell phones and email.

The University of Wisconsin Police Department (UWPD) is responding to a gas leak this morning in the area surrounding the Biochemistry Building, the Biochemistry Addition and Horticulture Hall.

Several buildings in the area have been evacuated and traffic has been closed off, including Babcock Drive, Linden Drive, Henry Mall, Agricultural Engineering and part of University Avenue.

UWPD is clearing the area and asking all students, faculty and staff to avoid the immediate area. Traffic is backing up on University Avenue and some Madison Metro buses are being rerouted. Please follow the directions of officers at the scene.

Madison Gas and Electric and the Madison Fire Department are on the scene and are attempting to identify the source of the leak. As of 11:30 a.m., officials are not able to determine how long it will take before an all-clear is given. Updated information will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

Map showing area of gas leak

The roads highlighted in red above show the general area affected by road and traffic closures due to the gas leak.