NYC Transit Prepping for Heavy Rain
April 30th, 2014
In anticipation of a heavy, soaking rain that could amount to four inches or more, MTA New York City Transit has already canvassed the system cleaning drains, removing trash and making repairs. Efforts to prevent flooding also include upgrades to a previously vulnerable subway car storage area situated on the Harlem River at 148th Street.
Hours prior to rainfall, New York City Transit dispatched additional cleaning crews to keep the track areas free and clear of any debris that could clog drains and allow a build-up of water significant enough to stop service.
“We depend on forecasting services to give us a heads up when inclement weather is heading our way and then we are able to effectively deploy the personnel and equipment needed to keep service moving,” said Senior Vice President of Subways Joseph Leader.
Trash clogs drains and aside from maintaining a more customer-friendly environment, the proper disposal of newspapers and other forms of litter helps to prevent system flooding. Vast improvements have been made in this area since the introduction of FASTRACK, which allows workers the time to thoroughly clean the area between the rails, but customers are urged to do their part.
Even without rainfall, NYC Transit pumps more than 13 million gallons of water from the underground portions of the system.
For the times when weather conditions or a tapped out water main adversely affect the system, NYC Transit maintains a trio of pump trains capable of evacuating 300 gallons of water from the system every minute. The Track and Infrastructure Division also has a fleet of portable pumps, some with a pumping capacity of 600 gallons per minute.
One of the historic problem spots has always been the 148th Street Yard in Harlem. Situated steps away from the Harlem River and FDR Drive, heavy rains often combined with high tide to flood the yard and, at times, even wash into the subway portal.
To combat the problem, a new sea wall was erected and roadway drains from the FDR Drive were rerouted and directly connected to the sewer. DEP sewer manhole covers were replaced with bolt-down covers to prevent displacement when the sewer becomes overcharged, and a sewer diversion chamber was rehabilitated (by DEP) and bolt down covers installed.
Additionally, the yard’s drainage system was modified and all work was designed to meet the guidelines for a 100-year flood plain.
When taken in combination, the work has eliminated the need for a portal wall during heavy rains and extreme low pressure storm system (nor'easters) events, though the extra protection will still be needed for hurricanes.