This morning, shortly after I dropped David off at the train, he called and said all Metro-North service through Pleasantville had been suspended because of "police activity" in Valhalla. The voice on the Metro-North PA system had explained that northbound passengers should "drive" to Chappaqua for train service, and southbound passangers should "drive" to Noth White Plains. So I drove back to the train station and picked him up. He had offered rides to other stranded passengers, so three very grateful women piled into the back of our van and we set out for North White Plains.
Not only had the Metro-North PA system made no mention of buses to transport stranded passengers, but it had also failed to mention the fact that several of the primary roads toward our destination were also closed: the Bronx River Parkway and the main local road into Valhalla (Columbus Avenue?). When we were diverted off of the Bronx River Parkway, we switched on a news station and heard that the closure of this section of the train line was due to a gas leak. When our circuitous detour took us near the Valhalla train station, we smelled gas so strongly that I wondered if it was actually safe for us to be there. I dropped off David and the other stranded passengers at the North White Plains station and took another route home, avoiding Valhalla.
When I got home, I checked Google news to see if there were any further details and called and left a message for my son's yoga teacher whose studio on Legion Drive seemed to be about where the gas leak must be, telling her that the roads to her studio were closed.
Via Google News, I came across this news item:
(AP) A gas main break in Valhalla has forced Metro North to stop train service on its North Harlem line. Metro-North is not running trains between North White Plains and Chappaqua.
Spokeswoman Marjorie Anders says as a safety measure Metro-North has turned off the power to the electrified third rail, to prevent a fire from leaking gas.
She says buses will pick up passengers at Chappaqua, Pleasantville, Hawthorne and Valhalla, and take them to North White Plains where they will be reconnected to a train.
Anders says the gas main was reportedly broken while a Westchester Department of Public Works crew was working in the area of Legion Drive in Valhalla. Some businesses in the area had to be evacuated.
Now, Legion Drive is a very short street that goes behind the train station. There is a very dubious-looking construction site directly across from the yoga studio in which earth-moving equipment had cut away the hillside directly below a house on a very steep slope. To the casual observer, it looked unsafe and prompted some discussion in the yoga waiting room. I am most curious to know whether one of the back hoes on that site broke the gas line.
Note to the Westchester media: When the air clears enough for you to go see, do take a look at the site of the broken gas main.
I wonder if I'll have to pick up David at North White Plains this evening, or whether they'll have the problem solved by then. UPDATE: Metro-North now reports, as of 1:45PM: Service has been restored on the Harlem Line. We appreciate your patience during this disruption.
FURTHER UPDATE: Here's the Journal News article about the leak:
An errant backhoe ruptured a gas main near the Valhalla train station yesterday, sending natural gas spewing into the air and leading authorities to evacuate some 500 residents and businesses and shut portions of the Taconic State Parkway and Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line for several hours.
It sounds from the article like the construction site was next to the train tracks. If the weather cooperates, I visit the scene this afternoon.