South Ferry Terminals Old and New a Tale of Two Subway Stations
Four years after its opening, MTA New York City Transit’s new South Ferry Terminal Station sits, dark, storm ravaged and unused. Floodwaters poured into the facility the night Sandy swept ashore last October pushing millions of gallons of New York Bay deep into the station’s recesses. The damage left behind by the salty tide will take hundreds of millions of dollars and years to repair. In the meantime, the original station has been once more pressed into use. The new two-track station was an architectural gem and workers had labored for hours prior to the storm’s arrival to secure the street-level doors, making them watertight against the expected floodwaters. But while their work held up to the expected pressure of the driving tide, the doors buckled under the force of blows delivered by wave-driven debris.
The destruction of South Ferry was extensive and included heavy damage to the station’s ADA elevators, seven escalators, station facilities and crew quarters, the train control tower, HVAC equipment, electrical distribution and panel rooms, power and communication cables, track and signal system. Automatic fare control equipment, two pump rooms, a fan plant, two circuit breaker houses, telecommunication system, data network, utilities, radio antennas, security equipment, art work, architectural finishes, lighting and associated equipment were also heavily damaged.
Like the Montague Tubes, currently under reconstruction, South Ferry will have to be virtually rebuilt from the inside out. This project will call for the replacement of all systems, equipment and components within the shell of the station down to the hardware that secure the rails to the roadbed.
South Ferry was built to replace the Old South Ferry Loop Station, a five-car long turnaround that had been in service since 1905. Antiquated and cumbersome to operate, because it sits on a horseshoe curve and is only half the length of today’s ten-car trains, it was closed to service in 2009 and relegated to a far less glamorous memory that its sister station, City Hall on the Lexington Avenue Line.
However, with damage to the new South Ferry Terminal station expected to take years to repair, MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast directed the station’s reactivation. This was a job that was far more complicated and labor intensive than it sounds.
After the area was inspected Transit workers cleaned the station thoroughly, removing three years of grime that had built up while the station was idle. Station surfaces were freshly painted, new signage and new electrical feeds installed. A closed-circuit monitoring system was put in place as well as a new public address system and customer assistance intercoms.
New, brighter lighting was installed on the platforms and the platform gap fillers were refurbished. The old South Ferry station is so deeply curved that metal plates extend from the platform’s edge to meet the car doors. Even the construction of a new entrance involved hard work, including; the removal and safe storage of artwork, create an opening in the old loop station wall for the new entrance, pour new concrete steps. Additionally, a new fare-control area was installed that required the removal of an existing storefront to allow customer access to an existing station and a pair of escalators were restored from the street to the concourse level.
To prevent this from occurring in the future, we are currently providing watertight panels on street level doors. These will, however, be switched out for permanent watertight doors during the final rehabilitation/recovery project. Below grade, redundant flood mitigation features will be added, include flood barrier walls between stations (Old South Ferry Loop Station and Whitehall Street Station). Watertight doors will be installed to protect critical rooms, and louver covers will be installed on interior walls at critical rooms.
The MTA’s restoration of the new South Ferry will be part of an overall effort to make Lower Manhattan’s mass transit system far less vulnerable to weather events and rising tides.
By Joe Leader, Senior Vice president, Department of Subways
We knew she was coming and we were getting ready.
The permanent artwork was created to withstand water and it withstood 3 feet of standing water when the storm flooded the station.