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More manhole problems in downtown Albany

ALBANY -- Trouble underground, rising from another manhole in Albany. This time, smoke causing concern near State and Broadway, and the pressure is building up at City Hall for National Grid to deal with these continuing incidents.
Nation Grid didn't say there was a fire but that insulation around cables was smoldering. The manhole did come off the ground a few inches, according to the utility company, and smoke was released around it.
"When there's smoke there is fire, contrary to what some people say, and as far as I'm concerned, we've had enough experience with this," said Mayor Jerry Jennings (D-Albany).
This was at least the fifth time since September manholes made emergency crews figure out what's going on underground. This one was right up the block from where Susan Watson-Amos works and walks.
"We've got a lot of old infrastructure underneath and it's going to be a lot of work that they need to do but they really need to get to the bottom of it," Watson-Amos said.
A cable at the bottom of this street to blame this time. National Grid crews were working on the problem all day.
"If the company really was forthcoming and cared this wouldn't be a problem," Jennings said. "They would have hired the appropriate manpower to do the proper inspections."
Jennings claims he hasn't heard of much progress from the utility company, but it told us 3 miles of cable will be replaced in Albany over the next two to three months.
"There are problems elsewhere in this city I want them to address, and I want them to ascertain whether or not something is too old to be functionally safe," Jennings said.
One hundred new, vented manholes are on order according to National Grid, so gas which builds up has a place to go and doesn't blow a lid off the ground.
"It's very frustrating," Jennings said. "We sent them a letter before based on the previous incidents and this is a question of public safety."
Jennings says his next step is to go to the state Public Service Commission if he doesn't receives what he considers to be an appropriate response and reaction from National Grid.
The company reassures us it is out there inspecting the downtown area for the next few months.
National Grid is relying on people to call 800-867-5222 if they see anything unusual around the city's manholes.
 
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