A gas-line rupture at the corner of downtown Milwaukee’s Cass and Michigan streets shut down work Thursday at the 833 East project that is under construction nearby.
Irgens Partners LLC, the developer of the 833 East project, said the break was caused by crews who were doing unrelated work on water mains.
“Work on 833 East is expected to continue on Friday,” according to Irgens’ official statement.
Sandra Rusch Walton, communications director for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, said the crews working near the corner of Cass and Michigan streets were from American Sewer Services, of Rubicon. A representative of American Sewer could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
Aaron Lipski, a deputy chief at the Milwaukee Fire Department, said the first report of the gas leak came in around 11 a.m. Thursday. He said several nearby buildings, including at 833 E. Michigan St., were evacuated as a result.
Most of the people who had been working inside them had been allowed to return by 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Lipski said.
Brian Manthey, a spokesman for We Energies, said the pipe that ruptured was a service line rather than a main. That meant that only one customer was without gas while the repairs were being made.
Although the distinct odor of natural gas could be smelled several blocks away from the rupture, the line that was broken was in fact small, Manthey said.
“We were able, relatively quickly, to squeeze that off and stop the flow of gas,” Manthey said.
Chris Zehring, an employee of Chicago-based Glass Solutions, a subcontractor on the 833 East project, said he could smell gas from where he was working on the 17th floor of the 833 East building. He said he had been told that he and the other workers might have to wait a few hours before they could back inside to retrieve their vehicles, tools and other belongings.
The general contractor on the 833 East project is C.G. Schmidt of Milwaukee. A foreman for the company who was at the project site Thursday declined to comment.
When completed, the 833 East project will be an 18-story office building standing near downtown Milwaukee’s lakefront. The structure is scheduled to open in March 2016.