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National Grid repairs could continue through Saturday

National Grid repairs could continue through Saturday

Damage to underground electrical lines was worse than previously thought
National Grid repairs could continue through Saturday
National Grid employees continue replacing electric cables beneath State Street at Broadway in Schenectady on Thursday.
Photographer: Peter Barber/Daily Gazette photographer

SCHENECTADY -- Sections of Broadway could remain closed until Saturday morning, as National Grid crews continue to repair underground electrical lines.

An underground electrical explosion on Tuesday caused a manhole cover in the area of State Street and Broadway to dislodge. Repair work was expected to be completed Wednesday. But National Grid Spokesman Nathan Stone said the utility's investigation into the problem showed it might take longer.

“The damage down there was a lot more extensive than we thought it was,” Stone said.

The fault in the electric cables occurred over a longer length than crews initially anticipated, Stone said. There were also problems accessing the cables, Stone said, because their casings had been heavily corroded. 

“[The encasings are] doing their job of keeping stuff out, but the issue is trying to get into them, because they’ve been in there so long,” Stone said of the cables. “We’re making progress, just not at the pace we initially thought.”

City emergency officials responded to a call at around 1:30 a.m. about three manhole covers that were smoking near the corner of State and Broadway. Fire crews checked nearby buildings for smoke but found none. They eventually turned the situation over to National Grid.

There have been previous underground electrical problems in the city, including a manhole cover that was launched into the air early one morning last year near Proctors. That explosion was caught on surveillance video. No one was injured.

Mayor Gary McCarthy and Stone previously have said the problems were a result of aging infrastructure.

Stone previously said National Grid had planned to come to Schenectady next month for repairs and upgrades in the area where Tuesday’s incident occurred.

“But we’re also doing repair work we were going to do anyways, so we don’t have to close the road for a second time in September,” Stone said.

The fault, according to Stone, may have been caused by an overloading of the system due to more electricity being used during high temperatures in the days leading up to the incident. He said that’s why National Grid puts out requests to the public to curtail energy use when trying to keep cool on hot days.

“It does make a difference,” Stone said.

Still, Stone said crews are continuing their investigation and repairs, hoping to be done by Saturday morning.

“We’re down there working around the clock,” Stone said.

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