Natural gas leak evacuates part of Lowry Hill

LOWRY HILL — Contractors working at Lyndale & Vineland damaged a pipe today and caused a natural gas leak, according to the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Natural gas collecting in the Lowry Tunnel approached flammable levels, Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said, and prompted the evacuation of the tunnel and I-94 in both directions.

“Most of the gas just dissipates into the atmosphere, but we did have gas trapped in that Lowry Tunnel space,” Tyner said.

The Walker Art Center, the nearby pedestrian bridge over Hennepin and Lyndale avenues and surrounding businesses were also evacuated, although Tyner said no natural gas was detected near the Walker.

Fire officials said CenterPoint Energy shut off natural gas to the line, the gas dissipated and the roads have reopened to traffic.

Tyner said it’s fairly common for crews to nick pipes during excavation, and today’s leak stemmed from a large 16-inch pipe.