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GHS Construction

‘Human error’ caused gas line rupture at GHS

Construction continues smoothly

GREENFIELD — Human error alone is to blame for the ruptured gas line at the Greenfield High School construction site Tuesday morning, said a construction project manager Thursday.

Josiah Herbert, of Shawmut Design and Construction, said that a worker was following normal procedure when he dug with an excavator as close to the gas line as possible.

But he accidentally hit the line, which caused the gas leak. Nearby roads were shut down, a few houses were evacuated and 27 firefighters rushed to the scene — dousing the line with water for close to three hours to disperse the gas until Berkshire Gas could shut down the main.

To the best of Herbert’s knowledge, the “Dig Safe” guidelines were accurate and there were no other adverse circumstances that caused the incident.

“We do want to say we apologize for the inconvenience it caused everyone. We do feel bad about that,” he said.

The incident delayed construction by only a few hours. Work resumed midday Tuesday and has continued this week as planned, said Herbert.

He said it will take weeks to assess what consequences, if any, the gas leak will have on the project moving forward.

Construction update

Until Tuesday, construction had gone off without a hitch, said Jim Byrne, the town’s project manager.

There haven’t been any surprises — like bad soil or giant boulders — below the surface, he said.

Construction crew has been performing drainage work around the site. Byrne said that the foundation is nearly complete and the steel framework has begun to rise from the ground and should be completed within weeks.

A temporary faculty parking lot has been built east of the current high school. Trailers for the Poet Seat day therapeutic program have also been relocated there, he said.

Greenfield High School students and their teachers will spend this coming academic year with a ringside seat while half of their new $66 million school rises from the construction site — the first step in a carefully choreographed dance that will see sections of the school built, remodeled or removed around the students over three years.

Then, during the following school year, 2014-2015, students and teachers will move into the newly constructed building while other school operations will move into temporary facilities located in a retooled section of the old building.

The majority of the old high school will be demolished during the course of the 2014-2015 school year and the rest of the new building will be constructed in its place. In the eye of the storm will be the school’s auditorium, the only physical reminder of the old high school, which will be closed and renovated throughout that entire school year.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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