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Superstorm Sandy: Fix&Fortify Efforts Continue

LIRR continues to make progress post-Sandy

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.


Project budget: $53.1 million
Three substations (Oceanside, Oil City, and Long Beach) on the Long Beach Branch are being replaced. The new Oceanside substation went into service in 2015, while the Oil City substation is under construction. The preliminary design for the Long Beach substation has been completed. 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.

Project budget: $65.3 million
Switches, signals, communications and third rail equipment along the Long Beach Branch will be replaced. Early construction work by both third party and LIRR construction forces has commenced. The next major upcoming project milestone is the award of a Design/Build contract for the Signal System. Critical components like signal and communication huts are being rebuilt on elevated platforms to make them more resilient against future flooding.

Project budget: $12.6 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 was awarded for a new emergency generator, concrete foundation and platform. The bridge's new emergency generator is in service and built on an elevated platform to provide resiliency against future flooding / storm surge events. Preliminary design for the replacement of the damaged bridge electrical systems has been completed, with the award of a third party construction contract to undertake the replacement work being the next major project milestone.

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. Construction work for tracks 7&8 is currently underway by LIRR construction forces.  Design of perimeter flood walls is progressing and under review to provide resiliency against future flooding.

Project budget: $1.4 million
Damaged substation components were replaced and the substation has been in full operation since the first quarter of 2015.

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. Crews of LIRR construction forces have been assigned to the project since early 2014.

Work, which will be coordinated with Amtrak, includes replacement of signal, communication, track, power and drainage systems in the East River Tunnel Lines One and Two.

Project budget: $9.7 million
Station, signal and power infrastructure component repair and restoration are underway at locations throughout the LIRR network. Work is being performed by third party and LIRR construction forces, with various elements nearing completion.

Project budget: $8.4 million
Replaces Substation AC switchgear and associated equipment which was damaged by saltwater intrusion. The design was completed in June 2015, which will allow the construction to progress.

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.
    • An award of a Preliminary Design contract for both efforts is upcoming, with the goal of awarding Design-Build contracts in 2017. For West Side Yard, drainage improvements, and the construction of a combination of deployable and permanent walls will defend against flood surges from the Hudson River to protect the yard, Penn Station, Amtrak’s Hudson River tunnels and Empire Line ventilation plant. For the East River Tunnel (ERT) Queens Portals, this project will protect the ERT’s from flooding from the East River and Newtown Creek, also using a combination of deployable and permanent walls.
  • East River Tunnel Resiliency Improvements: Includes the installation of permanent emergency generators at the East River Tunnels Ventilation Buildings at First Ave in Manhattan and at Long Island City in Queens, as well as waterproofing the entrances and manhole/conduit points of entry to both ventilation facilities.
    • Amtrak will begin design in 2016, after resiliency funding is transferred from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).


  • Long Island City Yard Resiliency: Implement perimeter protection and drainage improvements at the Long Island City Yard. This will better protect this vital yard from flooding / storm surge from the East River and Newtown Creek. Final design is currently underway. Following the completion of design, the LIRR will progress towards the award of a third party construction contract.
  • 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. Many of these improvements are underway and 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. Construction commenced in 2015.
  • 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. Specialized equipment procurements are underway, with selected equipment being delivered to LIRR and available for deployment.


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