De Blasio: We’ll talk about infrastructure later

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“This is not the occasion to talk about the dynamics of our national government and the lack of support for infrastructure improvements," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference today. "That’s a separate discussion, but for another day."

The city's infrastructure, including its aging gas mains, were again called into question on Wednesday, after an explosion caused two buildings to collapse in East Harlem.

De Blasio attributed the blast to a gas leak, though it's not clear whether that leak originated inside or outside of the building. (At the press conference, Con Edison C.E.O. John McAvoy said that the larger gas lines that run through the street were last surveyed in July of 2013 and, "No leaks were identified at that time.")

“[I]f now isn't, when is the time?” Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez responded to the mayor in a tweet. “NYC is the most important city in the country, if we aren't operating optimally, US suffers.”

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Rodriguez issued a statement shortly after the blast, calling for a new focus on infrastructure improvements. He cited a report issued the day before by a think tank called the Center for an Urban Future, which detailed the sorry state of the city’s infrastructure.

The report went into great detail about the city's gas mains, and how they're so old that many of them are made with corrosion-prone cast iron.

Now investigators are looking at the role a broken water main may have played in damaging the gas line and causing the explosion.

As it turns out, that same Center for an Urban Future report went great detail about the state of the city’s water mains, which are, on average, 69 years old. Fifteen percent of them are more than a century old. About a third of them are made with unlined cast iron. In fiscal year 2013, there were more than 400 water main breaks citywide.

The report concluded that the governor and the mayor need to make infrastructure investment more of a priority.

Today, after saying that now was not the time to talk about the issue, de Blasio talked about the issue a little but, mostly from a federal investment standpoint.

“The broader infrastructure challenge is something we address every single day with the resources we have," he said. "But that is a tough battle given that we are not getting some of the support that we deserve.”

--additional reporting by Gloria Pazmino