Caution tape, neon cones and Con Edison are on the scene in Hell’s Kitchen after dangerous sidewalk “stray voltage” was identified near the DeWitt Clinton Park dog run. 

Cones warn of electrical voltage near the DeWitt Clinton Park dog run. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Neon cones affixed with signage reading “WARNING: Possible Electrical Condition, Do Not Enter” were present at the W52nd Street sidewalk between 11th and 12th Avenue, close to the DeWitt Clinton Park public dog run. A Con Ed contractor who is part of the 24/7 team who have been protecting the area for over a week told W42ST that the blocked pavement areas held the risk of over five volts of contact electrical current, potentially stemming from lines running to the nearby Manhattan Cruise Terminal.

W42ST reached out to a Con Ed spokesperson for further details on the official cause of the contact voltage and were told: “We are guarding the area, pending repairs. Contact voltage occurs when the insulation on an underground cable is frayed and the current is making its way (via conductive surfaces and equipment) to street level.”

The Con Ed contractor on the scene added that when areas are determined to possess more than five volts of contact electrical current, a safety representative is required to remain onsite to prevent pedestrians from accidentally entering.

Neon Green warning cones from Con Ed of Stray Voltage
Neon cones surround a sidewalk on W52nd between 11th/12th Avenue where the electrical voltage was detected. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The precaution is part of a series of steps taken after the death of New Yorker Jodie Lane in 2004. Lane, a 30-year old psychology student, unknowingly stepped onto an electrified area of E11th Street while walking her two dogs and was killed by “stray voltage” caused by the electrical current’s interaction with snow and salt. Lane’s family sued the City of New York, settling for $7.2 million and creating the Jodie Lane Public Safety Foundation as a means of advocating for increased regulations around potentially deadly sidewalk voltage.

In the years since Lane’s death, Con Ed has increased regular testing of all potentially electrified elements — manholes, street lamps, and metal panels — as well as established new monitoring and repair procedures to prevent public interaction with hazardous surfaces. 

In a West Side Rag article detailing the dangers of contact voltage to dogs and their owners, ConEd representative Allan Drury said the agency had significantly altered their approach in the wake of Lane’s death. “We scan our system regularly for contact voltage — and when we find it, we immediately make it safe, even if the voltage is not coming from Con Edison equipment,” he said. “Instances of contact voltage from Con Edison equipment have declined by 90 percent since we began this program in 2004.”

The risk of contact voltage is still present, however, as demonstrated by a February 2022 incident in which Hell’s Kitchen pup Hudson was shocked by an electrical current near the Silver Tower dog run. Trainer Tess Marty told W42ST that she alerted personnel at Silver Towers, who acknowledged the area posed a risk, “but they hadn’t roped it off or anything, and they just let me and my dog walk right over it.” 

Hudson, a Hell’s Kitchen doodle who was shocked by voltage last winter. Photo: @dood_itshudson/Instagram

While caution tape and cones may give New Yorkers a heads up, West Side pup owners may want to avoid the street at the side of the DeWitt Clinton Park dog run area until the contact voltage risk is remedied. 

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Not sure if this article is reporting on a new electrical problem at this location or not. If you use the history function on Google Streetview, this location has had the area coned off for stray voltage issues since at least August 2022- 10 months.

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