City: Streets May Be Closed For Days After UWS Water Main Break

By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A massive water main break on the Upper West Side flooded streets for blocks and led to the partial suspension of service on the 1, 2 and 3 subway lines.

The 3-foot main broke around 5 a.m., flooding both Broadway and Columbus Avenue between West 61st and 65th streets.

As WCBS 880’s Kevin Rincon reports, several basements were flooded and at least one underground parking garage. For hours on Monday, water was being pumped from the facilities.

“Big gushy amount of water. Looks like Niagara Falls out there for a second,” said one resident. “Pretty shocking.”

The force of the break caused pieces of the street and sidewalk to be blown to pieces. Neighbors in this area said it was surreal walking out to see the damage.

Utility workers told reporters late Monday that it would be days, if not weeks, to get everything back to normal.

The break was capped shortly before 8 a.m. but the extent of the damage is still being assessed.

At a 9:30 a.m. press conference, officials said it would take days to repair the main, affecting traffic on Broadway.

"The work now is opening up the pavement of the street so the water main can be exposed so that we can get in there and make repairs, but it's likely that it will take us a few days to actually have that work done and the street restored," Vincent Sapienza, the city's DEP commissioner, said. "We’re going to have Broadway southbound — the west side of Broadway — closed down probably for a few days as we open up the street and make repairs to that main. Northbound Broadway and the sidewalk is open. Parts of Columbus and a couple of the side streets may be closed periodically."

Residents in nearby buildings are being urged to run water until it's clear if they notice any discoloration.

Video from the scene showed deep flood waters across entire streets near Lincoln Center throughout the morning commute.

The MTA said the Department of Environmental Protection stopped water flowing into the subway and that maintenance teams spent the day pumping out water from the tracks. 

About 500,000 gallons of water flooded the system, entering the tunnels through an emergency exit hatchway, manholes and cable duct work, reaching the third rail which forced the MTA to such off power to the tracks.

The water main break caused a flood of problems on the 1, 2 and 3 subway lines during the morning rush hour, leading to suspensions, reroutes and delays.

The MTA must inspect 72 signals and 12 switches to ensure they are functioning properly before fully restoring service, which they hope to accomplish by the evening rush hour.

The cause of the water main break is under investigation. The temperature fluctuation may have been a factor.