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Fix&Fortify Sandy Recovery Work

Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: The Recovery
Feds Approve $200 Million for Recovery Efforts

A line icon service to the Rockaways resumes May 30, 2013

On May 16, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced service on the storm-damaged Rockaway line of the A line icon train will resume May 30 after an all-out, six-month MTA effort to rebuild the 3.5 mile-long stretch of the Rockaway flats including 1,500 feet of washed out tracks, replace miles of signal, power and communications wires, and rehabilitate two stations that were completely flooded. 

Building a Wall to Battle the Surge

The high winds and heavy tidal surge generated by Superstorm Sandy effectively weakened the embankment and destroyed hundreds of feet of the A line icon line mainline connection between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula, leaving 35,000-daily customers without a direct rail link to Manhattan. To prevent flooding from future storm surges, MTA New York City Transit is building a $15.7 million sea wall on low-lying Broad Channel, which carries the A line icon line across Jamaica Bay.

“This project is designed to prevent future storm surges from doing what Sandy did,” said Interim Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast. “Sandy ripped the embankment out from under 400 feet of track and left an entire community without subway service.”

The wall will extend along a two-mile stretch on the eastern side of the island, adjacent to the Manhattan-bound tracks. It is made of thick corrugated marine steel that resists corrosion from salt water and is expected to last about 100 years. To ensure the wall is strong enough to ward off any future flooding, the 40-foot tall panels are being buried 30 feet into the soft soil along the narrow stretch of land between the North Channel Bridge and the Broad Channel station. Sandy’s surges left this stretch of the A line icon line’s track under five feet of water and covered with debris.

With tongue and groove construction, the panels lock into each other and are then welded together for added strength. When finished, the wall will be about seven feet above the tracks—two feet above Sandy’s surge.

The wall will also serve to keep debris off the tracks from any future storm surge. Jet skis, boat docks, fuel tanks and 48 boats came to rest on the A line’s tracks after Sandy. The clean-up of debris took over three months to complete.

The reconstruction has been a tremendous undertaking, requiring months of planning and labor. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.

April 2013 Update:

  • Removal of storm debris from South Channel Bridge to North Channel Bridge
  • Extensive track work
  • Building out the shoulders on the east and west sides of the tracks
  • Replaced damaged and missing third rail protection boards and insulators
  • Testing of signal, power, and communication cables and replacement of all damaged cables
  • Off-site servicing of damaged stop and switch machines and
  • Station repair work at the Broad Channel Station and Beach 116th Street.
  • Final Tamp of 16,000 feet of Rockaway-bound track.
  • Final Tamp of 16,000 feet of Manhattan-bound track.
  • Final Tamp of 10,000 feet of side (test) track.
  • Final Tamp of tracks in Broad Channel Station.
  • Took delivery of 162 truckloads of steel sheeting
  • Installed approximately 5,300 linear feet of steel sheeting
  • Excavated 3,500 linear feet for signal conduit installation.
  • Installed 2,800 linear feet of signal conduits
  • Excavated 11 negative return conduit locations.
  • Installed two conduit runs for negative return electrical cable.
  • Install six utility poles and transfer messenger to new poles at Hamilton Beach.
  • Completed all negative return rail on (Broad Channel) island, approximately 5,400 linear feet.
  • Completed all negative return rail on Beach Side approximately 11,400 linear feet
  • Took delivery of 2,400 linear feet plastebeton cable tray
  • Excavated National Park Service outfall from pond.
  • Installed communications cables (copper and fiber optic).
  • Continue to work on signal, power and communications systems necessary for the restoration of train service.

Rebuilding efforts, November 2012 through March 2013

Damaged to the track bed, signal, power and communication systems forced a complete shutdown of the train service in the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane.  After surveying the damage on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, personnel and equipment were mobilized to begin the cleanup and reconstruction on Thursday, November 1. Working seven days per week. the contractor force of approximately 100 set up two mobile command sites with temporary power and communications and work began clearing the thousands of tons of debris left on the tracks. 

With the prospect of Rockaway Line service being disabled for the next several months due to the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy, the MTA took the unprecedented action of moving subway cars by flatbed truck onto the Rockaway Peninsula and setting up a temporary train shuttle service. The 60-foot, 80,000 pound R32-type subway cars for this special shuttle service were loaded onto flatbed trucks in Ozone Park, Queens and trucked across the Cross Bay Boulevard Bridge and placed back on the rails at Rockaway Park. Once there, they were prepared for operation. In all, 20 cars were transported over four nights.

Beginning 5 a.m., Tuesday, November 20, the Fare FreeH Shuttle icon Shuttle started running between the Far Rockaway-Mott Av.station and the Beach 90 St station making all intermediate stops. The Howard Beach-Far Rockaway A line icon shuttle bus continues to run 24/7. Normal A line icon trains operate between 207th St and the Howard Beach-JFK AirTrain station and the Lefferts Blvd station.

Photos of subway cars moved to the Rockaways

But five weeks on, there were definite signs of progress. In fact, most of the damaged roadbed had been repaired to a point where it is difficult to tell that only a couple of weeks ago, there was no roadbed. Over the weeks, a train of concrete mixers delivered and poured more than 3,000 cubic yards of concrete to fill and repair two major breaches, the largest of which was 270 feet across.

Men and track-borne machines are busy along the right-of-way straightening rail and dumping ballast, preparing the line for an eventual return to service for trains that carry more than 30,000 customers a day. In a makeshift construction yard created just south of the North Channel Bridge a huge loader fills dump trucks with the 3,600 tons of debris that had to be removed from what was left of the tracks before work could even begin.

Everything had been dumped on the roadbed that you can think of and some things that you would never imagine. Heavy vegetation, boats, personal watercraft, logs-even a Coca Cola bottle dating back to 1902 was uncovered. This artifact was probably a remnant of the thriving beach and hotel community that existed on Jamaica Bay at the turn of the century. At one point workers came across a backyard deck and chairs that had become detached from a neighboring home.

A walk through the Broad Channel Station was like visiting a ghost station. The floors and walls had been scrubbed and all the debris cleared, even the oil tank that had washed up on the Brooklyn-bound platform. To clear the station, a street crane was brought in to lift the debris over the station fence before depositing it in dump trucks. Everything appeared ready for service, lacking only customers and trains.

A return to service, however, is still four to six months away as a full assessment of the damage sustained by the power and signal systems can only begin when one of the tracks is made completely safe and serviceable.

  • Over 45 pieces of heavy equipment have been mobilized in the cleanup and reconstruction effort.
  • Over 20,000 tons  of new material including, track ballast stone, Rip­ Rap stone and Jetty stone had to be located and delivered to the site.
  • Over 3,000 tons of debris has been removed from the site.
  • 600 feet of steel sheeting has been installed at the major breach to restore the fresh water pond.
  • 3,000 cubic yards of concrete have been placed at the tow breach locations.
  • 80% of breach reconstruction has been completed at the two major breaches (one was 270 feet wide and the second was 120 feet wide) and railroad tracks are being restored.
  • Fence removal continues with an estimated 20,000 linear feet of new fencing required.
  • The current focus is the track restoration including surfacing, third rail power, signaling and communication.
  • Track work is progressing on an accelerated basis, while all the damage on rail system is still being assessed.

November through February Update Photos

Our Pledge to You

Before Sandy's arrival, we safely evacuated customers, and secured equipment to weather the storm, and with the intention of bringing service back as soon as we were safely able to do so.  Taking into account the breadth of our service area as a whole, we've been able to accomplish a lot.  After Sandy, we worked to bring bus and subway service back as swiftly as possible.  These efforts are continuing, and for the most part, we are running close to normal subway service. But we realize until we resume full A line icon service, your commute will be longer. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.

You have our commitment—we will rebuild.  

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