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Smoking manholes early Tuesday shut streets downtown

Smoking manholes early Tuesday shut streets downtown

State Street has reopened; Broadway remained closed after 10 a.m.
Smoking manholes early Tuesday shut streets downtown
National Grid crews at State and Broadway
Photographer: Steven Cook

SCHENECTADY -- Smoking manhole covers in the area of State Street and Broadway forced National Grid to move up planned repairs under the Schenectady's streets.

"The irony is this section right here, we were scheduled to replace next month," said utility spokesman Nathan Stone. "We're doing a job up in Glens Falls, and this was next on our list. Obviously, we're here now. This kind of took some priority."

The smoking manholes forced the closure of State Street and part of Broadway for a time Tuesday morning.

State Street remained closed in the area of Broadway until about 7:30 a.m. Broadway remained closed through the day on either side of State Street, as National Grid worked to repair the malfunctioning lines, fire officials said.

City and National Grid officials said those areas of Broadway could remained closed until Wednesday.

Stone said there could be a fault in the primary or secondary electrical lines under State Street. At around noon on Tuesday, Stone said a utility crew was working to isolate where that fault was.

"As of right now, we don't know where it is," Stone said.

The first call came in at about 1:30 a.m. for three manhole covers smoking near the corner of State and Broadway, Deputy Fire Chief Michael O'Clair said. Fire crews checked nearby buildings for smoke but found none and turned the situation over to National Grid.

Underground electrical issues have caused multiple problems in recent years, including a notable one last year that was caught on surveillance video. In that instance, a manhole cover was launched into the air early one morning near Proctors. No one was hurt.

Both Stone and Mayor Gary McCarthy pointed to aging infrastructure as the reason for the problems.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions, but the commonality is old infrastructure that is failing," McCarthy said at a press conference for the reopening of Oak Street bridge. "Not much different than what happens with a bridge where it's old, it reaches its useful life end and you have to do those upgrades and other maintenance."

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