'It's a Mess': Verizon Struggling To Repair Shredded Cables in Durham

Thousands of lines have yet to be repaired five days after a drilling crew 'ripped' three underground cables. Work is expected to continue through weekend.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Verizon work crews are still struggling to repair three shredded phone cables under Miami Boulevard, leaving many nearby businesses and other customers without phone service since last Sunday.

The repairs are not expected to be completed before the weekend is over, either, according to Verizon spokesperson Robert Elek. As of Friday evening, he estimated between one third and one half of the severed lines had been repaired.

“We have a minimum of 12-man crews working 24 x 7 to get the repairs done,” Elek said, but he conceded: “It’s a mess.”

Three phone cables running 12 feet under Miami Boulevard were cut to pieces by a construction crew using a drilling device, according to Verizon. The company was not working for Verizon. He declined to identify the company but said its workers had not checked for underground cables before drilling.

To get at the cable, Verizon workers had to dig a massive pit, running 12 feet deep, 15 feet wide and 20 feet long, Elek said. Making matters worse, the ground has been saturated by recent rains.

Because the lines are made of copper and consist of twisted pairs, each line must be spliced back together by hand and then checked to make sure the proper connection is made, Elek explained.

Making matters worse, the drilling device did not make a clean cut but shredded the cables. “It just ripped these cables,” he said.

“Crews will work through the weekend and Monday if necessary,” Elek said.

While Verizon has not yet provided an estimate on the costs of the repairs and lost service, Elek said they “will be quite significant.”

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