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Superstorm Sandy: Fix&Fortify Efforts Continue

LIRR continues to make progress post-Sandy

Superstorm Sandy Archives

Long Island Rail Road

When Superstorm Sandy roared across the New York/Long Island region on Monday, October 29, 2012, the effects were devastating, but preparation paid off.   The MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Hurricane Plan called for an orderly shutdown of service before the arrival of sustained 39+ mph winds and trains made their final runs at 7 PM the night before the storm.  Upon completion of those final runs, trains were moved out of low lying areas and away from vulnerable tracks and yards.  The key decision to move trains to higher ground saved the LIRR’s fleet.  However, although LIRR personnel planned carefully for Superstorm Sandy, there was substantial damage to the infrastructure due to greater-than-expected storm surge.  Storm-related damage at the LIRR was most pronounced in four key areas:

  • Long Beach Branch
  • Long Island City Yard
  • West Side Yard
  • East River Tunnels

In 2013, Superstorm Sandy restoration projects were added to the MTA LIRR’s 2010 - 2014 Capital Program, and LIRR identified approximately $300 million in necessary repairs.  Currently, MTA Long Island Rail Road has almost $200 million in work underway.



Long Beach Branch Substation Replacement
Project budget: $56.6 million
Three substations (Oceanside, Oil City, and Long Beach) on the Long Beach Branch are being replaced.  Because the Long Beach Branch is flood prone, the LIRR is incorporating resiliency into the new substations by rebuilding them at a higher elevation. This will better protect the substation equipment against future extreme weather events.  This standard will be used in other flood-prone areas of the system

Long Beach Branch Systems Restoration
Project budget: $60.8 million
Switches, signals, communications and 3rd rail equipment along the Long Beach Branch will be replaced.  Critical components like signal and communication huts will be rebuilt on platforms to make them more resilient against future flooding

Wreck Lead (Reynolds Channel) Bridge Systems Restoration
Project budget: $7.7 million
The underwater cable, bridge electrical system, and the emergency generator for the LIRR's Wreck Lead Bridge over Reynolds Channel will be replaced.  A contract award was awarded for a new emergency generator, concrete foundation and platform. The bridge's new emergency generator will be built on an elevated platform to provide resiliency against future flooding / storm surge events.


Long Island City Yard Restoration
Project budget: $31.3 million
Power, signal and communications systems for tracks 9-12 in the yard will be replaced. Tracks 7 & 8 will be electrified.  Force Account construction work for tracks 7&8 is currently underway.

Long Island City Yard Substation Restoration
Project budget: $1.4 million
Damaged substation components are being replaced.

Project budget: $43.3 million
Signal, power and other assets in the yard are being replaced.   This work is being coordinated with the West Side Yard Overbuild and Amtrak Gateway projects. 

Work, which will be coordinated with Amtrak, includes replacement of signal, communication, track, power and drainage systems in all four East River Tunnels. 

Project budget: $9.7 million
Station, signal and power infrastructure component repair and restoration are underway at locations throughout the LIRR network

Project budget: $6.1 million
Substation AC switchgear will be replaced.


The LIRR has identified a need for resiliency projects to better protect the system against future weather events. In September 2014, the Federal Transit Administration awarded the Long Island Rail Road $100 million for resiliency projects.  At this time, the LIRR - in close conjunction with Amtrak and NJ Transit - is preparing work scopes, including cost estimates for the following three projects:

  • West Side Yard Perimeter Protection: Perimeter protections and drainage improvements to defend against flood surges of the Hudson River and protect the North River Tunnels and Penn Station was well as the West Side Yard and Amtrak’s Empire Line ventilation building.
  • Hardening the Queens Portals of the East River Tunnels ) Flood barriers to defend against surges from the  East River/Newtown Creek will protect the East River Tunnels from flooding that impacts service for all three railroads.
  • East River Tunnel Resiliency Improvements: Includes waterproofing and hardening of the First Avenue and Long Island City ventilation buildings to prevent water seepage; Installation of permanent emergency generators; Tunnel dewatering improvements to quickly remove salt water and or rainfall runoff from the tunnels.


  • Long Island City Yard Resiliency: Implement perimeter protection and drainage improvements at the Long Island City Yard.
  • Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Mitigation:   In order to better protect the LIRR’s tunnels underneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens, this project will replace and raise selected street level air vent grates ~6” to prevent water from entering the tunnel from the roadway.  In addition, existing pump rooms throughout the Atlantic Avenue Tunnels will be upgraded to current design standards and the existing sump pumps will be replaced with improved capacity pumps.  Finally, downspouts and vault drains inside the tunnel will be replaced and upgraded. These improvements will better protect this vital part of the LIRR system from future weather events and associated service disruptions, and will work to protect the track, signal, power and communication systems inside the tunnel from weather-related damaged.  
  • Emergency Management Equipment Mitigation:  Provides for the purchase of critical Emergency Management Equipment, to be utilized throughout the LIRR system, but especially in areas prone to flooding / storm surge as well as at major yards and towers, which play a vital role in train operations.  The Emergency Management Equipment to be purchased under this project will directly address storm-related needs which LIRR has experienced during past extreme weather events and includes the following:  Emergency generators & site specific backups, vehicle fueling Station; communication upgrades and weather fighting equipment. 
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