MTA hustling to restore lost subway service in Manhattan following water main break

Water Main Break
MTA New York City Transit responds to water main break that occurred on Broadway and West 62nd St. on Mon., January 13, 2020, sending water into the 66 St Station on the 1/2/3 lines. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

MTA crews are scrambling to get the 1, 2 and 3 subway lines in Manhattan back up and running for the Monday afternoon rush hour following a massive water main break earlier in the morning.

Train service was not spared when a 36-inch water main between 62nd and 63rd streets on Broadway burst at 5 a.m. on Jan. 13, inundating tracks for 1, 2 and 3 trains. That forced the MTA had to shut down service between 42nd Street and 96th Street to pump out water and get signal components back on track.

Frank Jezycki, Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Subways, said water began building up almost to the height of the 625-volt third rail.

One train at 66th Street was able to offload customers at Columbus Circle just before that happened, and power was turned off. The total section of affected tunnels stretched between 59th and 79th streets, or four stations.

Although nobody was injured, an New York City Transit escape hatch was the first to be flooded, according to Jezycki.

“Right alongside where the water erupted is one of our emergency exit hatches… It was just a few feet from where the water came up. We had about two feet of water above the exit. They’re not waterproof so water came into the system through the emergency exit hatchway,” Jezycki said.

MTA crews were hustling alongside several other government agencies and businesses throughout the day, but Jezycki was confident full service would be restore before the evening rush at 4 p.m.

Photos provided by the MTA show workers not only contending with water, but muck.

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit


But off-peak riders were not completely out of luck in terms of taking the 1/2/3 or being forced onto a crowded A/C/B/D train. Jezycki says a “bus bridge” was put into effect between 96th and 42nd, running mainly on Central Park West.

“[The A/C/B/D] lines are already at capacity, we couldn’t put any additional trains on there, so there was some level of crowding as expected,” Jezycki said. “We got all water out of the tunnel segment, we’re currently down there inspecting the systems.”

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

According to Jezycki, there were 72 signal devices and 12 switch devices that were completely underwater. Technicians were having to check these instruments and replace parts if needed.

The MTA planned to run test trains on the lines after putting power back to the third track in the late afternoon just before the PM peak.