Regular subway service was restored in time for the Monday evening rush after a major water main break flooded streets on Manhattan's Upper West Side and disrupted commutes for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
"I've never seen this in 30 years I've been here," says one woman who lives in the area.
The three-foot water main on Broadway near Lincoln Center burst around 5 a.m., sending several inches of water into the area between West 61th and West 65th Streets. The water was almost knee-deep and turned parts of Broadway into a river. One man put garbage bags over his legs just to cross the street.
Crews worked for about three hours until they finally could shut off the main. Several valves inside manholes had to be located amid the floodwaters and turned off. Much of the water on the streets drained away by 9:30 a.m. No injuries were reported.
The city has not confirmed the total amount of water that burst out of the water main, but the MTA said more than 500,000 gallons flooded into the subway near the 66th Street Station.
Several buildings have water damage in their basements.
Officials said it will likely take several days to fully restore water service.
The city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said residents and businesses may notice discolored water coming from their faucets. They were urged to let it run until it was clear. Officials added that the water was safe and crews will conduct on-site water quality tests.
Crews were expected to dig up a southbound stretch of Broadway to make repairs. As a result, traffic will be diverted around the area for the next few days, and some side streets will see periodic closures.
Crews were investigating the cause of the water main break. The MTA says the city owns the water main.
The MTA suspended subway service on the 1,2 and 3 lines between 96th and 42nd Streets for most of the day and rerouted several bus lines. The transit agency projected full service to be restored for most of rush hour.
Earlier in the day, according to transit officials, the MTA had to pump out water after it entered the system through an emergency exit stairwell. MTA officials said the flooded water even reached the third rail.
The MTA said crews were working to assess possible damage to 72 signals and 12 switches that were under water.
Nearby school campuses, like Fordham University and New York Institute of Technology, delayed openings or closed for the day. Employees at the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center were told to stay home.
Michael Groll, the co-board president of Lincoln Plaza Towers, said his car was among dozens of vehicles surrounded by roof-high water in the parking garage on 62nd Street between Broadway and Columbus.
"Forget about my car — because I'm not concerned about my car — but I am concerned about the building," he said. "We had three feet of water in our basement. It's now been drained out, but probably into the garage, where we have the third and fourth floors now fully flooded and all the cars there are fully flooded."
Anyone who suffered damages as a result of the main break can file a claim with the city comptroller's office.
Programming note: The commissioner of the city's Department of Environmental Protection will be on "Mornings On 1" at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the water main break.