Just before lunch Friday, crews installing Access Underground Services on behalf of Vyve Broadband in downtown Franklin entered a water main serving downtown businesses, causing a massive rupture. The prime contractor for the fiber installation project is Ervin Cable Construction Company and the subcontractor is Axis Underground. The businesses water supply was immediately shut off in an attempt to control the leak, resulting in the loss of 200,000 gallons of water.
“The estimated cost to the city, including staff salaries, equipment, materials to repair the line break and the water itself, was $246,000,” the Franklin City Manager said. , Amie Owens. “We are working with the contractor and the insurance company to determine the next steps related to cost recovery.”
The $246,000 estimate provided by Owens matches the cost incurred by the City of Franklin, but the total loss due to Vyve Broadband’s project error would be significantly higher.
“The NCDOT also had to come and repair the road where the breach occurred and their costs are not included in the estimate as they will have their own claim,” Owens explained.
Macon County Maintenance Engineer Kenny McCourt of NCDOT said he was contacted around noon on Friday August 26 after a water main punctured, affecting a section of US 441 Business (at the intersection of US 441 Business and Palmer Circle.)
The maintenance crew moved in to repair the causeway, which had been undermined due to large amounts of water gushing from the broken pipe. The excavated area was approximately 12′ x 16′ and needed to be cleared of the saturated subgrade and replaced with stone. A patch was then placed over the excavation for weekend travel.
“The NCDOT road oil crew came in on Monday to place a leveling layer of surface asphalt to smooth the pavement to its original condition,” McCourt said. “The approximate cost of the two days of NCDOT labor, equipment, and materials is approximately $13,500. We are still awaiting receipt of the remaining invoices to accurately pass on the cost to the contractor. »
Franklin Fire and Rescue also provided traffic control in the area while waiting for Toccoa Natural Gas to arrive on the scene to repair the gas line which was also severed during the incident. At press time, a damage cost estimate for the gas line was not yet available.
In addition to the city and NCDOT & Toccoa Gas, businesses were forced to close, many restaurants closed during lunch hours.
According to Nancy Lindell, director of the public relations and media division for HCA Healthcare, the water supply to Angel Medical Center was interrupted, but the facility’s emergency response plan for such an incident was deployed, resulting in no interruption of services during the water outage. The Franklin Fire Department, with assistance from Squad 4, responded to Angel Medical Center during the outage to replenish the air conditioning cooling towers while connecting the hospital to the city’s water supply. city was cut off.
Vyve Broadband is in the process of expanding to the Franklin area and currently already operates in Sapphire, Highlands and Cashiers.
For the fiber installation project, Vyve Broadband or the contractors or subcontractors performing the work for them were not required to obtain a state, county or city permit. The company obtained an encroachment permit to install fiber within the right-of-way of state-maintained roads, but beyond that there was no additional monitoring.
Ideally, crews installing fiber would use the national 811 “know before you dig” hotline. The hotline is designed to provide anyone digging with the approximate location of buried utilities to prevent someone from unintentionally digging into an underground utility line. Despite confirmation from NCDOT and the City of Franklin regarding the company behind the project, at press time* Vyve Broadband’s only response regarding the situation was, “We’ll pass this on to our field team to verify if we were in the area. We do not provide service at Franklin, once we have additional information we will contact you.
*This article will be updated if/when additional information is provided by Vyve Broadband
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