Click to Know What’s Above and Below

Do You Know What’s Below?

Print this Article | Send to Colleague

By Mike Sullivan, President, Utility Safety Partners

Times Square in New York City is one of the busiest and most congested intersections in North America. Everywhere you look, there are throngs of people moving about, street entertainers, New York’s finest, oodles of advertising and at night, the lights are so bright you almost need shades! A few years back, I had the unique happenstance of being in Times Square while buried infrastructure beneath the intersection was exposed for road upgrades. For someone like me who has worked in the buried utility industry for decades, it was an eye-opening experience. I mean, I do know what’s below and have spent the better part of my adult life promoting safe work around buried energy and utility assets. But this? This was stunning!

The intersection was blocked from road traffic and pedestrians, most of whom were clearly used to the ongoing work, were maneuvered between the streets through pylons and fences. Inside the fences, workers moved dirt, hydrovac’d, cleared debris and stepped cautiously, yet comfortably, between the exposed utility conduits.

Think of the electrical and telecommunications cabling that travels across this intersection — any intersection in every community, city, province and country. Add distribution gas, water, and wastewater. It’s endless and these vast networks are continually expanding to serve all of us. 

While people from all walks of life passed the massive undertaking almost obliviously, my industry colleague and I, another Canadian damage prevention nerd from Quebec, stood at the fences with our jaws dropped. Times Square is impressive and a fun place to be and for most visitors, the utility work was, without question, a major inconvenience to their visit. But for us, it added to the experience and actually remains the most memorable part of our trip!


Back to Click to Know What’s Above and Below