Major Water Main Breaks Under Times Square

( – A water main line that has been in service for 127 years ruptured in the early hours of Tuesday, August 29, in Times Square. It resulted in flooding of the city’s busiest subway station and midtown streets.

At approximately 3 AM, the 20-inch (half-meter) cast iron water pipe failed beneath the intersection of 40th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Although the water’s depth on the streets was relatively shallow, social media videos showcased a huge flood engulfing the Times Square subway station. The torrent surged down staircases, crashed through ventilation grates, and transformed subway tracks into miniature rivers, soaking train platforms.

It took roughly an hour for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crews to locate the leak’s source and halt the flow.

DEP’s Commissioner, Rohit Aggarwala, stated that heavy machinery was employed to access the fractured segment of the pipeline. As a result, the subsequent excavation created a sizable cavity and muddied the surroundings. Despite the disruption, nearby streets were reopened by rush hour, although subway operations on lines 1, 2, and 3 were suspended across much of Manhattan. Service resumed later in the day but with associated delays.

New York City encompasses an extensive network of approximately 6,800 miles (10,900 kilometers) of water mains – almost the distance from NYC to Tokyo. Beyond water mains and subway tunnels, Manhattan’s subterranean expanse accommodates both a steam energy system and an electrical network. Both are reliant on components that were laid decades ago.

While the cast iron pipes employed as water mains in the late 19th century, such as the one that recently burst, are renowned for their sturdiness, their typical life expectancy is around 120 years.

On occasions, malfunctions can take on a spectacular scale. In 2007, an 83-year-old steam pipe exploded near Grand Central Terminal, propelling scalding steam and mud skyward in a towering plume. The incident claimed one life and engulfed a tow truck.

Ruptures happen rather daily in some parts of the city. However, last year’s number of 402 water main breaks was the second-lowest figure on record. This can be seen as a good thing, particularly considering the system’s vast expanse in comparison to other US cities.

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