Vol. 15, No. 14      July 18 - 31, 2002


Water Main Break on Gun Hill Road


Traffic and commerce on and around Webster Avenue plunged into chaos last Saturday morning after a broken water main sent water and other fluids flowing through the street.

The water main that runs underneath the street started leaking around 4 a.m. at the corner of Gun Hill Road and Webster Avenue. An electrical transmission line that runs parallel to the water main also began leaking insulator fluid, which maintains the coolness of the electrical cables. Both fluids began creating pools in the streets as well as entering the nearby section of the Bronx River, said Jeffrey Katz, a Con Edison spokesman.

Con Edison and the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), among other agencies, quickly contained the area. The leaking was stopped and the area was closed off for one block in every direction, including the entrance and exit ramps of the Bronx River Parkway. Special trucks were brought in to suction the fluid off the streets and regular street cleaning trucks followed. Booms were also placed in four different locations in the Bronx River to prevent any further contamination. The streets were reopened early Sunday morning except for the eastern portion of Webster Avenue.

"It was a war zone Saturday," said Carlos Laboy, who works in the used car department of Lasorsa Auto Group, which is at the southeast corner of the two streets and where the leakage began. Due to their proximity, the entranceways to the dealership were blocked off, preventing customers from reaching the building. The cars in an adjacent lot were also covered with the chemicals that were showering the area. While Laboy has yet to check the working conditions of the cars, he is concerned about the effects the present construction work will have on parking in the area. "It's pretty bad without this," he said. "Now it's a nightmare." Workers dug a large hole in the street in front of Lasorsa to clamp the leak and to make permanent repairs.

Across the street from Lasorsa, the only customers at McDonald's on Saturday were the officials working at the site, said manager Ava Hunter. McDonald's, whose entranceways were also partially blocked, made less than $200 over the weekend rather than their average take of $10,000. The DEP tested for contaminants in all the water used at the fast food restaurant as well as in the surrounding area, but it did not discover any public health hazards.

As Con Edison repairs the damaged cable beneath Webster Avenue, it will continue to investigate the relationship between the malfunctioned cable and the broken water main, which Katz said may have precipitated the electrical leakage.

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