The phone outage effecting over 2,300 Verizon customers in Throggs Neck and Pelham Bay during the holiday season appears to have originated during the removal of an old power conduit under Owen Dolen Park.
As part of the reconstruction of the park, the Parks Department had requested that Con Edison remove its power cables and conduits running under the park before construction of the $5 million in improvements got fully underway above ground, said Con Edison spokesman Rolando Infante.
With 95% of the work complete and the electrical power cables rerouted around the edge of the park, workers from Kelco Construction came across some unidentified wires and asked a Con Edison inspector if they belonged to the company, Infante said. When they were told that they weren’t Con Edison property, they were cut and removed, Infante said.
“Our involvement is just observatory; our transfer of services is complete,” Infante said. “Once we pulled the old electrical cables out of the conduits, they could have remained in place because they were deep underground, but Parks, during the construction of Owen Dolen Park, wanted those structures removed.”
The Con Edison inspector on hand could only identify Con Edison equipment and did not recognize the phone lines, Infante said.
Kelco, the city contractor for the whole project, was paid by Con Edison for the part of the work that involved the rerouting and removal of the company’s equipment, Infante said.
After the lines were cut, Verizon began receiving notification of the outage on Thursday, December 15, said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo.
He expected to have most or all of the 150 remaining customers who were still without telephone and internet service up and running by the end of the day on Tuesday, January 3.
No fewer than 40 Verizon employees are working in the field, central office, and with customers to ensure that service has been restored, Bonomo stated. Verizon did not participate pre-construction meetings on the project, Bonomo said.
The company is not at fault when it comes to the cut, Bonomo said. The work crew cut five cables completely and badly damaged two others, Bonomo stated.
“Unfortunately, I know this is of little comfort to the people whose service was interrupted, but we were victimized here,” Bonomo said.
“Had that construction company not cut the lines, everything would have been fine. We would have had a quiet holiday, at least for that part of the Bronx.”
Permanent repairs, including enlarging the trench dug for the project and pouring a concrete manhole will take place in coming weeks, Bonomo stated.
A Parks Department source said that the conduits needed to be removed to make way for the installation of a new drainage system for the park.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393