Town Square

Post a New Topic

Car crashes, barely misses PG&E gas lines

Original post made on Jan 28, 2019

A man crashed a sedan into a barrier protecting PG&E gas transmission lines on a major roadway in Palo Alto on Monday morning, leading to evacuations and roughly hourlong street closure, police said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 28, 2019, 7:33 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2019 at 9:28 am

Thankfully the worst case scenario did not happen here and nobody was injured.

However, the question has to be asked as to how serious this could have been. I see that several houses were evacuated as a precaution, but what could this have done to our power supply?

When there was an airplane that crashed into a pylon in EPA several years ago, Palo Alto was without power for 12 hours.

I imagine that this had the potential to do even more damage in a worst case scenario. Not only to the homes in the immediate neighborhood, but to the power for a large part of the Peninsula. Can someone confirm this? Is our power supply still at the mercy of a traffic or plane accident?

Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2019 at 9:36 am

When I was learning to drive, I was taught to use the brake pedal to avoid a collision. Do instructors now teach drivers to swerve instead of brake? Does swerving work better than braking when the driver is speeding to begin with?

Posted by Sally-Ann Rudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2019 at 10:15 am

Sally-Ann Rudd is a registered user.

When I did motorcycle training they taught both. It is quicker to swerve than brake if you're going more than 25mph. That said, a swerve can cause other problems especially when you are swerving and braking at the same time. You can lose control of the vehicle that way. I have to wonder though, whether locating large gas pipes right next to a major intersection with horrible sight lines is really the best idea.

Posted by Max
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:10 am

Yes "Power" supply is still at risk of being damaged by planes and vehicles which could cause power outages. This accident however is at a Natural Gas pipeline which has no connection to power supply.

Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:12 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

To Resident: this concerns gas, not electric power. Not to diminish the potential mayhem if the gas lines were to be damaged. If I recall this location relates to large diameter PGE gas pipeline transmission extending up the entire Peninsula. I imagine the lines were in place years or decades before the present configuration of Alma and the underlying Oregon Expressway. Moving the lines would be prohibitive, but perhaps better protection more/stronger barrier should be investigated.

Posted by Common lies told to cops
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:34 am

"I swerved to avoid hitting an animal"
"I wasn't using my phone"
"I only had a couple beers"
"Someone cut me off"

I'm guessing he was either speeding or distracted, or both.
If he was going 25 MPH this does not happen.

Posted by Speed kills.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:54 am

Speed kills. is a registered user.

"Skid marks left on the roadway indicated the driver may have been traveling at more than 35 mph prior to the crash..." All roads in that area are posted 25mph for good reason--school routes, pedestrians, utilities. It is a residential area.

Fellow drivers, speed limits are posted for reasons that may not be readily apparent to you as a driver. Comply with the law for your safety and safety of everyone in our community.

I hope PAPD slapped him with hefty fines for reckless driving, speeding--at least. Even better, take his license for a while. We are all lucky he didn't kill anyone.

Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:56 am

The speed limit on Alma Street is 35mph at this location. Getting cut-off is plausible, especially if the driver that got cut off was driving somewhat faster than 35mph. It is very common for drivers turning on to Alma to misjudge the speed of speeding cars on Alma. Putting a red light at this location would improve safety a lot.

Posted by Seriously
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2019 at 1:25 pm

... or a turn lane on Alma. Merging onto Alma from Oregon can be pretty nerve-wracking for all parties involved, especially at rush hour.

Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm

May I ask the City to accept this accident as a worthy warning?

Posted by Old Palo,Alto
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Old Palo,Alto is a registered user.

Remembrance, an entire grade school “blew up” with a gas leak on East Meadow I think in 60s I think ...

Leveled ....

Luckily ! On a Saturday ......

Posted by Now they are proven
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2019 at 4:12 pm

The headline SHOULD read: "Safety barriers work as designed, prevent car from hitting gas lines"

The story CLEARLY states this to be the case, but stoking fear is so much more interesting:
"His dark-colored Acura sedan missed a "maze" of PG&E gas transmission lines thanks to a concrete barrier that prevented him from hitting the equipment, he said."

Posted by Its the weekly
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jan 28, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Now they are proven- but remember this is the weekly- stirring the pot and generating pressure on TSF is the goal.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2019 at 7:50 pm

"The headline SHOULD read: "Safety barriers work as designed, prevent car from hitting gas lines"

Well, they worked against a speeding light car, but how would they have fared against the heavy trucks that ply Alma?

We should be asking why this major gas pipeline infrastructure is exposed to such obvious hazard. Wake up and answer the wakeup call, CPA.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2019 at 8:07 pm

This afternoon, I was driving south on Alma. I was being passed by several vehicles with drivers who looked annoyed. I glanced at my speedometer and noticed that I was actually going 45mph (despite the speed limit behind 35mph).

I usually make a conscientious effort to go the speed limit. However, traffic was flowing so fast that I was surprised at my own speed.

The cars that passed me were going considerably faster. I estimate one vehicle (a Tesla) was going near 60mph. One car was tailing me and then passed me so tightly that I thought that he would clip my vehicle in the back and front.

I agree with others than there should be a traffic light at the intersection of the entrance and exit streets to Alma at this particular intersection.

Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2019 at 8:56 pm

I hope this incident is a lesson to those who would speed on public streets. When you speed, you are risking not only your life, but the lives of pedestrians, students, and neighbors. If this crash went slightly different an entire neighborhood might have literally burned down.

Posted by Rosemary
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Drivers used to get tickets for speeding on Alma St. I have not seen the police watching for speeders on Alma St. in several years. Why have they stopped?

Posted by Another Bad Driver
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 29, 2019 at 5:52 pm

PG&E cannot be blamed for driver negligence.

Yank the guy's CDL and make him take the bus.

Posted by Greendeller
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 5, 2019 at 10:04 pm

@ Old,Palo Alto--I've been told that Ramos Park was once an elementary school. Is that what happened to it? Yow.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 6, 2019 at 3:16 am

^ "Yow" is right. That 1966 grade school explosion was coincidently less than a mile upstream on this same PG&E gas line, 800 yards along Alma then 200 yards in on El Carmelo Ave.
Reference Web Link (pipeline map can be zoomed way in)

Unrelated coincidence however, being a low pressure leak into a contained volume of classrooms as I recall, not a leak in the main high-pressure transmission line.

@Greendeller, the old elementary school at Ramos Park was Ortega.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Houjicha lattes and mango matcha: Kaizen and Coffee brings specialty coffee to San Mateo
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,377 views

How quickly will we electrify our homes?
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 2,018 views

Everything Falls – Lessons in Souffle
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,144 views