In addition to steam service disruption to 15-20 buildings, telephone service and Internet connectivity were disrupted in the area. Although an underground electrical transformer and feeder cables were also damaged, there were no significant power outages reported, but customers in the affected area were asked to reduce demand. Cellular telephone service was overloaded in the immediate aftermath, and blocked calls were reported as many people in the area tried to make calls at the same time.
Bus and subway service were also affected. The 42nd Street Shuttle and IRT Lexington Avenue Line 4 and 6 train service had to be suspended in Manhattan, and the 5 train was rerouted via the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, but the subway infrastructure was not damaged. Subway service was restored overnight, before the next morning's rush hour, with all trains initially bypassing the Grand Central – 42nd Street stop. Grand Central Terminal was also at least partially evacuated in the immediate aftermath, and entrances facing the affected area were closed, but Metro-North Railroad commuter train service was not significantly disrupted. By the following evening's rush hour, the Vanderbilt Avenue entrance to Grand Central Terminal was reopened and Third Avenue was reopened to all traffic as well.
Officials estimated that repairs and cleanup would take at least a week, but as of July 21, no definitive timetable had been announced. An extended environmental clean-up would have significant adverse transportation and economic impact, because the site is in one of the busiest sections of the city, and one of the most expensive commercial districts in the U.S. More than 700,000 commuters pass through nearby Grand Central each work day.
Businesses in the frozen zone have been severely impacted, with financial loss estimates as high as 30 million U.S. Dollars, which could reach into the hundreds of millions if the clean-up goes beyond one week. By July 21, 2007, the frozen zone had shrunk to the four blocks from 40th to 42nd Street from Park to 3rd Avenue.
In a twist labeled as ironic by a city lawmaker, a law firm that has Con Edison among its lobbying clients was one of many businesses whose offices were inaccessible due to the frozen zones. Con Edison has offered to reimburse businesses for direct costs of damage and clean-up, but not for business interruption costs, such as lost productivity and revenue.
A Brooklyn woman was the first to file a lawsuit against the utility, claiming she was traumatized by the blast, which reminded her of her sister's death in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The family of the tow truck driver also announced their lawsuit against Con Edison on July 30.
Read more about this topic: 2007 New York City Steam Explosion
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