Volume 74, Number 20 | September 15 - 21 , 2004

Con Ed inspection bill passes Council committee

The City Council’s Transportation Committee last week unanimously approved legislation introduced by Margarita Lopez and committee chairperson John Liu that would require the Department of Transportation to conduct annual tests at random street sites to detect stray voltage from electric infrastructure.

The legislation approved by the committee on Sept. 8 was prompted by the death in January of Jodie S. Lane on E. 11th St. when she tried to rescue her two dogs that had stepped on an electrified Con Edison junction box.

“It’s significant that D.O.T. now accepts the new responsibility,” Liu said on Monday. At previous hearings, Liu said, D.O.T. was reluctant to accept the task but at the Sept. 8 committee meeting, the Bloomberg administration agreed to support the legislation.

The legislation, which the full City Council will consider at the end of this month, requires Con Ed and all other electric power providers to conduct annual tests, inspections and repair of their entire electric street infrastructure and requires the city to test those sites at random.

“Based on what we learned at our hearing, it became alarmingly apparent that there is no mechanism to review construction and maintenance of work by private utility companies on our city’s streets,” Liu said. “It’s imperative that we take action immediately to implement review procedures to ensure New Yorkers’ safety.”

At a news conference last month when the legislation was introduced, Lopez, who represents the district in which Lane was killed, said, “Not one more person or animal should be injured or lose their life simply by setting foot on poorly maintained Con Edison street infrastructure — enough is enough; we must demand change now.”

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