Superstorm Sandy: Fix&Fortify Efforts Continue
From the Chairman: October 2015
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has gone through profound change since Superstorm Sandy three years ago. Hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure repairs and improvements have been planned, contracted for, or completed. The entire system is evolving to meet the challenges that extreme weather events will present to us in the future.
The subways of NYC Transit, commuter rail lines of Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road and the inter-borough vehicular tunnels operated by Bridges & Tunnels all absorbed major damage on October 29, 2012. We averted even more serious harm because we ceased operations prior to the storm’s arrival and moved subway and commuter rails cars, as well as buses to safe storage locations. Where we could, we also moved critical right-of-way components out of harm’s way. Despite all those efforts, the storm left behind flooded tunnels and maintenance facilities, washed out roadbeds, corroded electrical systems and twisted rails.
It was through the dedication and hard work of MTA employees, the efficiency of our contractors and the funding assistance of FEMA and New York State that we were able to begin fixing an historic level of damage and fortifying the MTA system against future storms. None of us had ever seen anything like Sandy, but even before the winds completely died, we were rolling up our sleeves and beginning the tough job of restoring service to the millions who depend on us each day..
The rebuilding of the Cranberry Tubes, which carry A/C Train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn is underway and a similar project is set to soon begin in the 53rd Street Tubes. Work is also in the early stages on the complete reconstruction of the South Ferry Terminal Station on the No. 1 line. This station, which was ground zero for the 14-foot storm surge, saw barely three years of service before its tracks, platform and mezzanine were submerged in 80 feet of water rendering it useless and forcing us to re-commission the old South Ferry stop.
On August 21st we announced the receipt of a $21 million federal grant to harden Metro-North’s Hudson Line against future storms by raising critical electrical infrastructure above the river’s flood level. This equipment is critical to the operation of signals, third rail power and communications equipment. We are matching federal dollars with $6.9 million of our own funds.
A four-year contract is currently in place to make extensive repairs and improvement to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. It has been operating with temporary repairs but, as you know, the damage was extensive. If you were there, saw the photos or viewed video news coverage you know that the salt water was up to the ceiling. The damage requires the installation of new catwalks, duct banks, wall tiles, ceiling finishes, curbs, gutters and roadway lighting.
We are moving ahead with these repairs even as we continue our effort to gain a fully-funded 2015 – 2019 Capital Program. While this program is not directly associated with the Sandy work, it is vital for the safe and efficient operation of the MTA system, which serves as the foundation for the region’s economy. Investment in the MTA is an investment in the region and that is even more evident as mass transit ridership increases.
In the hours and days after the storm hit, New Yorkers were reminded of how dependent the region was on the MTA’s operations. That remains true today.. As stewards of this trillion dollar asset that is the MTA network, it is not just our job it is our responsibility to ensure that we not only protect the system for the more than 8 million customers who rely on our system today, but to do so for the next generation of riders who will rely on our services in the years and decades to come.
Thomas F. Prendergast
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