Utility gives Sedgwick residents gas pains

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Since January, Sedgwick Avenue residents in Van Cortlandt Village have had a lot to complain about. 

Con Edison, the company that provides gas and electric services to New York City and Westchester County, already has spent three months refurbishing gas lines on Sedgwick and fielding complaints from neighbors about noise, lack of parking, and traffic obstructions. 

Juan Garcia lives in the Amalgamated Houses, a full two blocks away from the ongoing construction work. Yet, he says he still can hear the loud banging of buses passing over metal plates that cover the open street at night. 

“With those plates, when a car passes, it sounds like the devil,” Garcia said in Spanish.

Community Board 8 chair Daniel Padernacht said not only did ConEd not inform the public of their plains to do work — which is now a month over schedule — but the company plans to continue working on Sedgwick for another 18 months. This time on electric lines. 

“We received many complaints about loud, banging noises from the loose roadway plates left by the contractor every single day,” Padernacht said. “You had loud crashing noises every time a car would go over it. It came to the point that members of the community were shell shocked.”

At a meeting of CB8’s traffic and transportation committee March 21, ConEd representatives explained the noise was largely the fault of the contractor hired to do the work — Safeway Construction — which they said did not follow the necessary noise-reduction protocols. Safeway did not secure metal plates covering the holes where the word was being done. As a result, when cars drove over the plates, they made loud noises that echoed into neighboring buildings. 

The gas project was supposed to be complete March 6, but now isn’t expected to finish until April 17, weather permitting. 

The construction noise is worse during the day, Garcia said, when workers are tearing open Sedgwick with jackhammers, joining the chorus of passing cars echoing into people’s homes. 

“Thank God the noise is only really bad during the day,” Garcia said. “But sometimes at night, when a bus passes over the plates, you can hear all through the neighborhood.”

The new work taking them well into 2018 is an “Electric Feeder” project, designed to inspect existing electrical lines on the other side of Sedgwick, ensuring cooling and insulation is still intact. 

“You’ve got an electric line, which is surrounded by a fluid pipe to keep it cool,” Padernacht said. “Just a few years ago, they ripped open Sedgwick Avenue between West 238th Street and Giles Place, and did a similar project.”

The electrical work, said ConEd spokesman Robert McGee, is “necessary for the reliability of the electric system,” and that work would not start until the ongoing gas project was completed. 

Residents attending the March 21 meeting were infuriated, Padernacht said, especially when ConEd representatives informed them the lines being refurbishing were not serving the Bronx. McGee, however, said that wasn’t the case. 

“The electric system is entirely interconnected,” he said. “Anyone who maintains that an electric cable in the Bronx is not supplying the Bronx is not correct.”

ConEd also says they won’t use the same contracting company for their electrical work, and that will do more to ensure the metal plates are secured to the ground, minimizing noise issues. 

Garcia doesn’t mind that the work is being done — he just hopes the next project is less intrusive.

“We deal with it, what can I say,” he said. “We know it’s good for the city.”

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