A portion of Highway 15 in Audrain County damaged in a natural gas pipeline explosion will be closed indefinitely, a Missouri Department of Transportation engineer said Tuesday.
The pipeline ruptured early Sunday morning roughly one mile north of Mexico, Missouri. The rupture left a large crater in the ground just 50 to 75 yards from the road, the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities at the scene said a construction site near the blast was destroyed.
MoDOT engineer Brian Haeffner said the intense heat of the fire burned the asphalt out of the road and crews have to try to replace it with liquid asphalt. The agency is not sure how much liquid asphalt will need to be applied, he said, making it unclear when the road can be reopened.
Authorities originally hoped the road would reopen Tuesday.
“When we got in there was a lot of debris on top of the road so we had to get that cleaned off first to we could assess the damage,” Haeffner said.
VIDEO: MoDOT engineer Brian Haeffner on Highway 15 damage and repairs
The pipeline is owned by Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. Panhandle has an office with a Centralia address and supplies natural gas from the Oklahoma panhandle to Indiana and Ohio. Panhandle is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, which is headquartered in Dallas.
The road might reopen sometime Tuesday, but MoDOT officials said MoDOT is working to get materials and equipment to make temporary repairs to seal the road, but the weather made a timeline difficult to pin down.
In a news release, MoDOT said once there is good weather, MoDOT will work with the pipe line and a contractor to make permanent repairs to the road.
Drivers used Highway 22, Route E and Route T to detour around the closure.