For the past 10 days, Colvin Boulevard through the Village of Kenmore has been a muddy work zone as Verizon crews rush to repair water damage to copper phone lines underground.
A convoy of trucks, plastic sheet tents and mounds of dirt lined a 0.7-mile stretch of the northbound side of Colvin causing closures of lanes and side roads. Bright lights illuminated the night sky so crews could work around the clock.
“Everybody’s back in service,” Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro said of the nearly 200 customers whose service was interrupted. “We’re working around the clock, 24/7, to get all of our customers back in service, and we haven’t left that site until the work is done.”
The problem began Jan. 4 when water infiltrated Verizon’s pressurized lines south of Kenmore Avenue in the City of Buffalo. Verizon began receiving calls about service outages in the affected area on Jan. 7, Santoro said.
“Anytime water touches metal, it will affect the service that rides on the metal, in this case copper,” Santoro said.
City workers were repairing a water line break at Colvin Avenue and Sanders Road when the incident occurred, said City Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.
Before crews begin to dig so the line can be repaired, all utilities are called to the scene so they can mark where their lines are, Stepniak said.
“That line might have been improperly marked by the utility,” he said.
The water line had to be repaired quickly, he said.
“It’s unfortunate. It happens, because you’re digging. You’re in emergency circumstances,” he said. “When you have these excavations, you do the best you can.”
Santoro said he couldn’t comment on Stepniak’s claim that Verizon may have improperly marked its lines without checking first with the project foreman, who was unavailable late Thursday. He also wouldn’t comment on the cost of the repairs or what entity is liable for those costs.
Colvin from Kenmore Avenue north to Deerhurst Park Boulevard on Thursday was reduced from four to three lanes. Parkwood Avenue and Warren Avenue were closed to traffic at Colvin, which is maintained by Erie County. At Parkwood, Verizon had to bring in an excavator to open up the road around a manhole so crews could access the lines.
Town of Tonawanda residents appeared to be most affected by the phone service outage.
“The effects of the damage, it’s my understanding, are actually in the town,” said Kenmore Clerk-Treasurer Kathleen Johnson. “It’s just that the work to correct it is in the village.”
“We’ve received no phone calls in this office having to do with any kind of disruption in Verizon services. If there have been any in the village, they must have been reported directly to Verizon. The only inquiries we’ve had are just curiosity.”
Santoro said workers are nearing the end of the job.
“They’re just doing some last-minute cleanup work right now,” he said.
News Staff Reporter Jill Terreri contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org