Home Asides Second Avenue’s a gas

Second Avenue’s a gas

by Benjamin Kabak

After a construction mishap underneath Second Ave., hundreds of residents at the George Washington Houses, a New York City Housing Authority project, are without gas, The Times reports today. Per Joseph Berger’s reporting, Cruz/Tully Joint Venture, a Second Ave. subway contractor, accidentally turned off a gas valve that feeds the building at 1905 Second Avenue. When the gas lines were inspected, the pipes were found to be faulty, and thus gas could not be turned back on until all of the gas pipes are replaced. This is yet another example of how shoddy building work and landlord negligence has led to problems for the Second Ave. subway.

The MTA has so far pointed its finger at the contract. “This was an inexcusable mistake on the part of the contractor working on the Second Avenue Subway project,” an MTA spokesperson said to Metro. But at the same time, NYCHA has to take responsibility for their gas lines. Had they properly maintained the building, Cruz/Tully could have reactivated the gas shortly after accidentally shuttering it.

While the gas hiccup won’t impact work on the subway, it has left neighbors even more resentful of the project, and residents are concerned that the gas could be out for as much as two months. The Housing Authority has issued two-valve hot plates in the meantime, and the contractor will distribute Visa gift cards ranging from $600-$1200 for those customers impacted by the outage. Yet, as one asked, “Who’s going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner on a hot plate?”

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JMP October 15, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Let’s get this straight: The contractor accidentally turned off the valve. In order to turn the gas back on, the gas lines in the building itself (not under the contractor’s control) had to be inspected. The building’s gas lines failed the inspection, and the building will now require work to fix the gas lines.

Saying that the construction of the subway caused this problem is like saying that going to the doctor causes cancer, because you never get a cancer diagnosis if you don’t go to the doctor.

Besides, was it necessarily safe for the gas to keep flowing into that building if it failed the inspection?

Aaron October 15, 2010 - 2:24 pm

To be fair, when you’re out important utilities, you’re probably going to be mad at everyone involved. Having said that, I think everyone involved has responded the best way they can…

Marc Shepherd October 15, 2010 - 1:16 pm

We had a gas leak in our apartment (not at all related to the Second Avenue Subway). It took months for service to be restored.

Once the gas is off, the whole building has to be tested. Leaks are practically always found, and the gas must stay off till they are fixed.

Jerrold October 15, 2010 - 8:46 pm

It seems strange though that nobody who lives there smelled gas and reported it.
Is it possible that the leaks involved an extremely small amount of gas, for all practical purposes harmless?
If not, I don’t understand why the tenants did not smell it.

Nathanael October 16, 2010 - 6:34 pm

Why are leaks “practically always found”? In single-family homes, when the gas goes off, and it’s tested, leaks are practically *never* found.

Sounds to me like apartment building owners are just irresponsible about their gas lines.

Hank October 15, 2010 - 2:54 pm

Hopefully this encourages the demolition of more of the de-humanizing stain on our city known as public housing.

JoshKarpoff October 15, 2010 - 2:56 pm

It should also be noted that this is an example of the fringe benefits of a major infrastructure project like the SAS: Nearly all of the subterranean utility infrastructure on Second Ave is being replaced with modern materials and methods. In some places it’s even being upgraded. With the utility re-locations and replacements, the utility companies will even know where their equipment is actually located, while bringing order to how it’s arranged. This adds up to less street disruptions in the future and more reliable services for residents and businesses in the area.

So while it really sucks for the residents of the George Washington Houses (who living in a NYCHA project probably already have the shortest end of the stick possible), they’re going to get SAFE gas piping out of this fiasco. This mistake by the contractor is annoying, but all it did was just force the issue of NYCHA’s neglect. I think it’s probably better that the contractor’s mistake exposed these problems well before there was a fatal accident. Natural gas is not something to be taken lightly or something where quality is to be skimped on.

R2 October 15, 2010 - 4:12 pm

Nicely summarized. That’s right, gotta look at the big picture. Any way to get this disseminated into old media? Folks need to be educated about stuff like this.

JP October 15, 2010 - 6:30 pm

um… word of mouth? twitter? a letter? you could always call, they have phones.


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