Flood Mitigation Work Begins on Seven Downtown Stations
On May 16, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a series of efforts underway to flood-proof major sections of the New York City Subway system.
MTA NYC Transit has issued orders to six qualified architectural and engineering design firms, which starting this summer, will present the first of a series of plans to protect vulnerable subway stations, tunnels, storage yards and other equipment from future storms and coastal flooding. This will proceed as the MTA continues vital work to convert temporary repairs into permanent improvements that will fix and fortify the subway system to return it to its condition before Superstorm Sandy.
The MTA has also established a new Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division dedicated to launching, advancing and managing the rebuilding from Sandy, which will require years of construction and careful oversight of billions of dollars in federal aid. Plans will call for protecting stations, fan plants, under-river tubes, tunnels, ground-level tracks, signals, train shops and yards, traction power substations, circuit breaker houses, bus depots, train towers and public areas.
The goal is to protect all points where the subway system could be flooded during a storm, consistent with Governor Cuomo’s directive to the MTA to flood-proof critical subway elements. This may include building walls to protect outdoor subway yards, installing submarine-type doors at subway station entrances in low-lying areas, designing waterproof covers for ventilation grates, preparing barriers to protect above-ground fan plants, examining technologies and studying other physical modifications to protect the subway system from water infiltration.
“The MTA did a remarkable job of restoring service after Sandy, but the reality of recovery is that making permanent repairs to keep the subways safe and reliable will be an MTA priority and a full-time challenge for years to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “We all saw in the days after Sandy that New York cannot function without a strong and robust mass transit system, and that our economy depends on that system. The last six months have meant substantial cleanup and repair, leading to the rapid restoration of full service in all but the hardest-hit facilities. But the difficult work of rebuilding the system to be stronger, more robust and more resilient has just begun.”
The Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division has been established within MTA New York City Transit, which runs subways and buses in New York City, and will draw on experienced engineers, project managers, procurement specialists and other in-house staff as well as employees of approved contractors to manage the rebuilding effort.
The Division has issued 16 task orders to six firms which will design system repairs and study best practices from flood-proofing resiliency efforts around the world, investigate how they can be applied to the challenges of the New York City subway system, and develop schematic designs for construction. Additional firms are being solicited to support future design and construction activities.
“Governor Cuomo has set a strong standard to protect the New York City subway system, and it is the same standard that our customers and employees expect,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast, who has been nominated to serve as the MTA’s next Chairman. “We are using all means available to jump-start this effort, so we can not only restore our system to the condition it was in before Sandy struck, but harden it against similar storms that we expect to arrive in the future.”
Preliminary assessments are due starting in July, with final assessments due in three months, to protect a wide range of subway infrastructure, including entrances, ventilator gratings, vents, elevator shafts and openings, access hatches, emergency exits, manholes, utility entrances, escalators, machine rooms, pump rooms, sewer lines, conduit ducts, utility services, lighting, HVAC systems, fare collection equipment, building entrances and other right of way equipment. Specific projects include:
- Work to design and plan repair work in the 53rd Street, Cranberry, Rutgers, Clark Street, Canarsie and Montague subway tubes under the East River and the Greenpoint tube under Newtown Creek;
- Pump room augmentation;
- Plan and design work for flood mitigation at the Coney Island, 148th Street and 207th Street subway car yards and 12 ventilation plants in multiple low-lying areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx;
- Flood mitigation at the St. George Terminal and Clifton Shop of the Staten Island Railway;
- Design and development of flood prevention and mitigation equipment at the entrances to several low-lying Lower Manhattan subway stations, including: Rector St , Rector St , Broad St , Bowling Green , Whitehall St , South Ferry (currently closed) , Old South Ferry Loop Station (brought back into operation).
The Clifton Shop and St. George Terminal task orders remain outstanding, pending proposals from vendors which will soon be delivered.
The MTA has some $250 million in other Sandy repair and recovery projects already underway throughout the city transit and commuter rail network. While temporary repairs have kept most of the MTA network running, it will take years to design and implement permanent recovery measures.
The South Ferry subway station was devastated and will need years of renovation work, while the old South Ferry loop station has been pressed into service in the meantime. Eight subway tubes under the East River and Newtown Creek were flooded with salt water, as were several subway yards and terminal stations.
The MTA system suffered an estimated $4.755 billion worth of damage as railroad and subway lines, vehicular tunnels, subway stations and power and signal equipment were inundated with corrosive salt water during Sandy. The MTA has already been allocated nearly $1.2 billion in funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for repair and disaster relief work initiated by New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road and other MTA divisions, as well as $3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
The MTA’s transit projects will be eligible in the coming months for additional funds for critical repair and restoration projects, as well as mitigation and resiliency measures from the FTA's Emergency Relief program. MTA Bridges and Tunnels will also apply to FEMA for additional federal funding for recovery work at its seven bridges and two tunnels.