Workers digging a trench for a new storm sewer underneath Springfield Boulevard in Bayside hit and ruptured a gas main Friday morning, causing two blocks of homes to be evacuated.
The accident occurred around 8 a.m. at the corner of Springfield Boulevard and 49th Avenue, where contractors were digging a trench for a sewer line related to the Alley Pond Drainage Improvement Project.
The project, estimated to cost about $115 million, is intended to alleviate street flooding in the neighborhoods around Queensborough Community College.
Michael Gurevich, safety engineer for the Carp contracting company, said workers were digging a 4-to-5-foot trench for the new sewer main when they hit the gas main.
Gurevich said a chain-reaction response in which the Fire Department was immediately called to the scene worked perfectly.
The most important thing is that nobody got hurt, he said.
Lou Montalvo, construction representative from Con Edison, said it took 30 minutes to shut down the gas main excellent time, by his estimation.
Montalvo said it was not known how the accident happened and that residents on Springfield Boulevard from 48th to 50th Avenue and some on 49th Avenue were evacuated.
I heard a hissing sound, very, very loud, and I started to smell gas, said Stella Petraglia, 70, who lives with her husband, Larry, in a house at the corner of Springfield Boulevard and 49th Avenue, where she said crews had begun digging the day before.
The Petraglias were evacuated to an area about a block away from the rupture, along with a neighbor on 49th Avenue who would only identify himself as Bob.
I just heard a roar, he said, and then saw Con Edison trucks arriving at the scene.
They did a great job, Bob said of Con Edisons response. They came right away and shut it down.
The rupture did not sour him on the sewer project he hoped would alleviate flooding in his neighborhood.
Its an inconvenience to everyone, but hopefully it will solve the problem.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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