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Crews fix half of cut phones

August 26, 2005|By: Michael Miller

Repair crews said Thursday that they had reconnected more than half

of the telephone lines that were severed this week in West Newport,

and that they expected to have the job finished by late today.

After construction workers from Professional Electrical

Contractors cut through three underground cables Tuesday morning --

the cause of the event is still disputed -- crews from the SBC

telephone company began working around the clock to reconnect the

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wires. SBC officials could not say how many of the roughly 6,000

lines inside the cables were live, but many west Newport Beach

businesses and residences reported losing service.

As SBC crews labored in a small ditch at the corner of Orange

Avenue and Old Newport Boulevard on Thursday, construction manager

Gary Bodenweiser said the end appeared in sight.

"We're a little more than halfway done," he said. "We've probably

restored about 3,200 pairs."

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, a number of the SBC customers

who had lost service reported having their lines restored.

Newport Beach's Utilities Department, which operates out of a yard

on 16th Street, regained its phone service around 7:30 a.m. Thursday,

according to city telecommunications coordinator Dan Auger.

The utility workers -- who service the city's oil, gas,

electricity and water systems -- made do with cellular phones while

their ground lines were dead.

"Our utilities yard is up and running, and everything's back to

normal," Auger said.

Neither SBC nor the city knew exactly how large the area was that

suffered the outage. Although the lines were cut near Newport Beach's

western boundary, Costa Mesa administrative services director Steve

Mandoki said no one had contacted his office reporting lost service.

Also unanswered was the question of how the phone cables were cut

in the first place. After the incident Tuesday, SBC and GKK Works,

the contractor for the construction project, offered differing

accounts of who had ordered the cables severed. Steven Smith, a

spokesman for SBC, said his company had told the workers to leave the

cables alone, while GKK superintendent Rick Norquist argued that SBC

had given his subcontractor permission to remove the wires because it

wrongly believed that they were out of service.

Kevin Smith, the president of Professional Electrical Contractors

and the subcontractor for the job, declined to comment because he

said his company was still discussing the matter with SBC.

Steven Smith said he did not know how much the repair work would

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