MetroNet contractors hit gas lines in Zionsville neighborhood

Metronet Gas Line Concerns 6:30
Metronet Contractor Concern 5:30
Metronet Contractor Concern 4:30
Metronet contractor concern

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) — For the second time in two days, MetroNet Fiber contractors have hit gas lines in a Zionsville neighborhood.

Neighbors say digging is getting dangerous.

"I was just livid," said Bonnie Madley. "I've been livid all day!"

People in Colony Woods tell Eyewitness News, flags started appearing in their yards last week, marking utility lines.

Digging began Monday and neighbors say a gas line was hit on Franklin Trace.

Then on Tuesday another gas line was hit on Penn Place.

Neighbors called 911 and homes were evacuated, all because of the hazard in their front yards.

"We've never had a problem like this before and Metro hits our area and all 'you know what' breaks loose," Madley said.

NexGen is overseeing the digging. Wendell Solomon is the president of the company and blames the Monday incident on equipment malfunction. As for Tuesday's gas line hit, he says Vectren's line was not marked.

"We didn't know the gas was here so we inadvertently hit it," Solomon said.

"So this just wasn't flagged," Eyewitness News asked him.

"It wasn't flagged."

"So who's to blame for that?"

"Ddon't like to cast blame ma'am," Solomon said.

But this is not the first time MetroNet's had these kinds of problems.

"This company came to Zionsville with the trust that this wasn't going to happen all over again like in Fishers," said neighbor Chad Hahn. "You wonder if they really put the priority towards safety or if they're just trying to ram this through as fast as possible to save a buck."

In 2017, state investigators came down hard on MetroNet Fiber for its role in a series of natural gas line rupture incidents in Fishers and Carmel. They blamed MetroNet and its sub-contractors in 10 of the 20 breaches.

The Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission began looking into the ruptures following complaints from Fishers and Carmel.

Both cities had banned MetroNet from doing any more digging after excavators struck gas lines multiple times.

Metronet was cited for using mechanized equipment within two feet of the marked gas lines and for failure to plan when using hand tools.

The IURC can't punish or fine MetroNet because the excavation work was technically done by other companies.

The IURC did lay out a series of recommendation for cities to consider before allowing MetroNet to continue installation of fiber optic cable. Those recommendations include documenting that contractors are registered with the secretary of state and making sure they're trained, qualified and insured.

MetroNet promised Zionsville's town council before it started work there, that those issues wouldn't happen in Zionsville. But when Bonnie Madley called town leaders this week, she says the person on the phone told her otherwise.

"Multiples is what he said to me. Multiples. This has happened multiple times since they arrived in Zionsville," Madley said.

We asked Solomon why they've had gas line hits again.

"Is it training?"

"I mean we... I don't know the answer to that ma'am," he said.

Neighbors want them to figure out the answers and prevent another problem.

"I don't want to see anybody hurt," Madley said.

You can read the IURC's 2017 findings below:

Filed under: