SALEM - A gas leak from a nearby construction site forced police and fire officials to shut down the Exit 2 southbound ramp on Interstate 93 for several hours Tuesday afternoon.
Fire officials said the leak was reported just after 2 p.m., when a backhoe working on nearby excavation project struck a natural gas line just west of the I93 overpass.
"The result was a six-inch gas line was broken," Salem Fire Chief Kevin Breen said.
The area surrounding the exit, including nearby Pelham Road, was immediately closed to traffic while emergency officials waited for the gas line to be contained and repaired. The interstate itself remained open and traffic was moving along at a reasonable rate after the incident.
Shortly before 4 p.m., dozens of state and local responders still remained at the scene.
Breen said no one was injured during the gas leak, though a handful of nearby commercial properties, along with a nearby daycare center, were evacuated as a precaution.
Though several citizens had already called the fire department with safety concerns, Breen said there's no immediate danger, though those working nearby might want to remain inside for the time being.
"It's all pretty localized," he added. "Fortunately, there aren't any residences in this area."
Unitil, the local gas provider, has been contacted and Breen said he expected a line crew to arrive at the site within the next half-hour. He said he's hoping the leak will be repaired in time for the 5 p.m. evening commute.
The highway remains open at this time, with the exception of the southbound on- and off-ramps.