Situation on Sanford
Here We Go Again...

by Jim Gerrish

Sunday, 01/04/15 - For the previous history of this problem, refer to "Who's In Charge" dated 5/11/14.

This year's "Situation on Sanford" started off with an explosion in the sewer that sent the manhole cover (and you can see that is it one of the heavy cast iron covers) high into the air and crashing down on the side of Sanford Street. Luckily, no one was beneath it when it landed. (Interesting Parallel Story from 02/04/15) This took place on the previous night, Saturday, 01/03/15, at about 8:00 PM. At the time I saw it, smoke was coming from the open sewer. I called 911 and reported that the open sewer hole was damaging the wheels of cars whose drivers were too stupid to slow down. A concerned citizen passerby placed a city trash can next to the sewer hole as a warning to cars, but it wasn't long before a car collided with the trash can and sent it flying - collision number one.

Eventually someone from the city showed up and dragged the manhole cover back on top of the hole, and they would have left it as a "mission accomplished" but I called PSE&G andf told them about the explosion and the smoke and the smell of gas that had been noticed in the general area some days prior to the explosion.

That brought out the PSE&G Worry-Free Truck and soon the PSE&G man was attempting to get out to the covered sewer to run some tests with a gas detector, but the traffic was too heavy and as usual, no one was obeying the speed limit. Finally he contacted the police who sent a car to protect him so he could run his tests safely. He then erected an elegant chimney structure similar to the one that was put up last May, but with more warning signs and traffic cones. I'm sorry I didn't get a photo, but it was very dark and I stupidly thought it would at least survive until morning.

It lasted until 1:35 AM on Sunday 01/04/15. Second collision. A car slammed into the structure and then sped off again, leaving scattered traffic cones, the chimney thing, and broken pieces of the signs scattered down Sanford Street as far South as Edgar Street. Again I called 911 and a police car arrived. The officer dragged parts of the structure back into place as shown in the photo above, and this time a relief car was sent to guard the site, so I was able to get the above photo with the aid of the police car's headlights.

Later, about 2:25 AM, another police car and a city Public Works truck had arrived and they added some more traffic cones and some red tape to the "fence" around the sewer, and by 2:40 AM all the cars had gone and the structure was left to await the next collision. As I stated back in May of 2014, the next collision will NOT be an accident. Putting a rickety structure in the middle of a busy street and then abandoning it, hoping no one will run into it, is NEGLIGENCE. Pray that no one is injured or killed in the next collision.

From past experience, I am sure there will be more to come on this New Year's "Situation on Sanford."

01/04/15 - 5:30 AM - The Third Collision between a passing car and the PSE&G structure just took place. This time the person at 911 was "snippy" and decided that I should no longer "bother" them with news of these collisions, which they have decided are not dangerous and not worthy of a 911 call. So I called the East Orange police directly, and the desk person told me that they had already contacted PSE&G about this and that it was their problem, even though I told them that this was a new incident. They are beginning to regard me as a nuisance for reporting cars colliding into the debris and sending traffic cones flying in all directions. You'll notice that at least four of the cones are no longer on top of the sewer hole. That's because they were knocked half-way south to Edgar Street. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that people actually walk down the sidewalks of Sanford Street and are in danger of getting injured from the flying debris. This is truly becoming a problem of NEGLIGENCE and DISREGARD FOR PUBLIC SAFETY. Maybe I'm using the wrong buzz words. Maybe I should complain about the QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES involved.

For the record, I called PSE&G again to report this third collision, made sure they made a recording of our conversation (I spoke to Mr. Forehand), and let them know that I felt there was a serious danger of a lawsuit over this situation if anyone gets hurt.

01/04/15 - 7:30 AM - Two Hours have gone by and no one has responded to my calls. So much for "concern for public safety in East Orange." The sun has just begun to rise so you can see the photos a little better. The top photo shows the familiar (by now) corner of Sanford and Melrose, with the debris from the third collision. Notice the white PSE&G sign that would have severely injured anyone standing on the sidewalk where it landed. The bottom photo shows the strength of impact of the third collision, with four of the traffic cones knocked down to the intersection of Edgar Street, and one more cone knocked down past Wayne Avenue.

The blue line has been added as a "plumb" line for comparison with the angle of tilt of the chimney.

Sunday, 01/04/15 - 11:00 AM - I am guessing that while I finally got some sleep, PSE&G showed up and put up another chimney over the sewer to vent away the gas and keep it from exploding again. For now. It is good that the PSE&G workers finally figured out to use fewer traffic cones to limit the amount of stuff that goes flying after a collision. Because as experience has shown in the photos above, it's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when" another speeding car or truck slams into their work of art before they can go underground and really fix the problem of leaking gas. Until that happens, I will keep adding to this page with the continuing story of our true "quality of life" in East Orange. The East Orange Police Department could help by erecting one of those radar signs that tells motorists how fast they are traveling in a 25 MPH zone, but I doubt that they will do so since they see this as a problem belonging exclusively to PSE&G.

01/05/15 - 10:11 AM -I hope this is the end of the "Situation." PSE&G workmen are on the job now and have already sealed up the problem sewer opening. They are painting mysterious blue lines on the street so I assume that means they intend to come back and work on it some more, but at least the street will have one less hazard in it when they finish for the day. Now if the East Orange police could only get the cars to drive at the speed limit on Sanford Street, this might eventually become a safe place to live once again.

The blue line has been added as a "plumb" line for comparison with the angle of tilt of the chimney.

Monday, 01/05/15 - 4:30 PM - I spoke too soon. By the time I checked back on the "Situation" the chimney was back in the street, this time tilted towards the north with the manhole cover resting on the north side from which most of the impacts have been coming. The damage to the car that hits it from the north will be more severe as a result. Also, note that there is an amber warning light on this (east) side of the stand. It is a slow blinking solitary light and it remains to be seen if it is effective in warding off the next collision, or if it will merely add to the danger from flying debris. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, 01/06/15 - 9:41 AM. A new complication has been added to the "Situation." Does this increase the risk of a collision or lower it? Notice that the tire tracks from south-bound vehicles goes behind the chimney, and if you imagine that cars slow down because of that little maneuver, you don't know New Jersey drivers. To their credit, the PSE&G vehicles and workers are in place, although how much work they will get done in the snow is debatable.

01/11/15 Sometime last night (01/10/15), the fourth collision took place, leaving the PSE&G equipment looking like the above photo on the left. You can see from the photo on the right, taken from the north, that the entire chimney "structure" was spun around 180 degrees, while everything was pushed to the north (the blue plumb line shows the center of the sewer hole), including one traffic cone that went flying onto the sidewalk. The green trash basket was presumably put back in place by a bored policeman with nothing else to do last night, since the basket had been shoved down the street to the south by the very first collision that took place back on January 3rd. I had wondered who in the city was responsible for taking care of things like that, and now I know. The bored policeman was there late last night, when it was too dark to take photos. I guess he reported the incident, sat in his car for a while, and then went away after an hour or two of nothing more to do. Since today is Sunday, and NO ONE IN THE CITY WORKS ON SUNDAYS, I am guessing that the debris will remain where it is until Monday. Any bets on that one?

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