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Restoring South Ferry Station

  • After Hurricane Sandy:

Sandy's Catastrophic Surge

When Hurricane Sandy struck, an unprecedented storm surge of 13 feet sent the East River careening into Battery Park and the streets of Lower Manhattan.  At the southernmost tip of Manhattan, the water cascaded into the South Ferry subway station, forcing Transit Managers, who were there to monitor the surge, to flee the station after watching the water consume the platform, and the stairs leading to the mezzanine, eventually rising to the tops of the escalators that lead to the street above.  

Sandy's impact on New York's rivers and waterways caused water infiltration to other vulnerable areas of the subway system as well.  The extent of overall system-wide flooding, including eight underwater tubes, took a massive amount of manpower to operate pump stations, leaving the South Ferry station essentially underwater for a week.  When the water was  pumped out, the extent of the problem was clear—Sandy's surge was catastrophic,  rendering the station, used by more than twenty-nine thousand riders daily, inoperable  indefinitely.

Details of Damage

When crews began inspecting the station, finding a component or sub-system inside the three year old station that wasn't water-logged was impossible.  Debris from the East River littered the station. Tiles were ripped off walls, plaster and paint hung from corridor ceilings. Turnstiles and other MetroCard equipment suffered extensive damage as did escalators, tracks, signals and switches. The equipment that Dispatchers use to monitor and control train traffic in and out of the terminal — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — was ruined. Crew quarters were in shambles.  Equipment was not only submerged, but evidence of corrosion from salt water was apparent, presenting crews with a maintenance and restoration nightmare.

Working toward Recovery

NYC Transit is now in the process of conducting a comprehensive assessment of the stations' damage, and its impact to the overall infrastructure of the station.  Engineers are developing a plan to repair damaged components where possible, and replace those beyond repair. Some equipment, like elevator and escalators, will require new motor parts which require long lead time to manufacture, or may be replaced altogether.  Signal interlockings and communication equipment may also need to be replaced.  NYC Transit will work as expeditiously as possible to assess the most appropriate restoration approach to get the terminal up and running as soon as it is safe to do so.

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