Parking Spot-Seeker Covers Fire Hydrant Covered With Orange Construction Barrel

Orange-and-white construction barrels are common sights across city streets and sidewalks, but what lies beneath may surprise New Yorkers. 

A viewer tip led NBC 4 New York to investigate why a fire hydrant at 73rd Street and Second Avenue was hidden underneath one of those construction barrels. Soon after NBC 4 arrived on Friday, so did the NYPD.

Officers removed the barrel, which was concealing the hydrant, and ticketed the driver, who turned out to be a construction worker on the Second Avenue subway project. 

The worker insisted to NBC 4, "I don't put nothing up on the hydrant." 

Asked who covered it up, he replied, "I don't know." 

People who live and work near the $4.5 billion project were surprised. 

"They should not be covering up a hydrant because that's for safety," said Claire Loftus. 

But others chalked it up to the latest curveball in their seemingly endless wait for construction to finish. 

"It's been a nightmare," said Michelle Weitzen, who added of MTA's promise that the subway is opening this month: "I'll believe it when I see it."

In the meantime, while the hydrant on 73rd Street was free and clear by Friday afternoon, others aren't: one block south, on 72nd Street, a cherry picket was parked in front of one. And on the far corner, construction completely blocked the hydrant.

The FDNY says blocked hydrants are always a concern, but they haven't had any formal complaints.

The construction company behind the Second Avenue Subway, Judlau, did not immediately return calls to NBC 4 on Friday. 

The New York City Department of Transportation issues a special violation for obstructing a hydrant, the fine for which is $500 -- compared to $115, for simply parking in front of one. As of Nov. 30, 2016, there were 349,386 summonses issued citywide by both NYPD officers and traffic agents for blocking a hydrant. That's down from 368,229 for the same period year-to-date in 2015. 

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