Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: The Recovery
Feds Approve $200 Million for Recovery Efforts
service to the Rockaways resumes May 30, 2012
Building a Wall to Battle the Surge
The high winds and heavy tidal surge generated by Superstorm Sandy effectively weakened the embankment and destroyed hundreds of feet of the line mainline connection between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula, leaving 35,000-daily customers without a direct rail link to Manhattan. To prevent flooding from future storm surges, MTA New York City Transit is building a $15.7 million sea wall on low-lying Broad Channel, which carries the line across Jamaica Bay.
The reconstruction has been a tremendous undertaking, requiring months of planning and labor. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.
Damaged to the track bed, signal, power and communication systems forced a complete shutdown of the train service in the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane. After surveying the damage on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, personnel and equipment were mobilized to begin the cleanup and reconstruction on Thursday, November 1. Working seven days per week. the contractor force of approximately 100 set up two mobile command sites with temporary power and communications and work began clearing the thousands of tons of debris left on the tracks.
With the prospect of Rockaway Line service being disabled for the next several months due to the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy, the MTA took the unprecedented action of moving subway cars by flatbed truck onto the Rockaway Peninsula and setting up a temporary train shuttle service. The 60-foot, 80,000 pound R32-type subway cars for this special shuttle service were loaded onto flatbed trucks in Ozone Park, Queens and trucked across the Cross Bay Boulevard Bridge and placed back on the rails at Rockaway Park. Once there, they were prepared for operation. In all, 20 cars were transported over four nights.
Beginning 5 a.m., Tuesday, November 20, the Fare Free Shuttle started running between the Far Rockaway-Mott Av.station and the Beach 90 St station making all intermediate stops. The Howard Beach-Far Rockaway shuttle bus continues to run 24/7. Normal trains operate between 207th St and the Howard Beach-JFK AirTrain station and the Lefferts Blvd station.
But five weeks on, there were definite signs of progress. In fact, most of the damaged roadbed had been repaired to a point where it is difficult to tell that only a couple of weeks ago, there was no roadbed. Over the weeks, a train of concrete mixers delivered and poured more than 3,000 cubic yards of concrete to fill and repair two major breaches, the largest of which was 270 feet across.
Men and track-borne machines are busy along the right-of-way straightening rail and dumping ballast, preparing the line for an eventual return to service for trains that carry more than 30,000 customers a day. In a makeshift construction yard created just south of the North Channel Bridge a huge loader fills dump trucks with the 3,600 tons of debris that had to be removed from what was left of the tracks before work could even begin.
Everything had been dumped on the roadbed that you can think of and some things that you would never imagine. Heavy vegetation, boats, personal watercraft, logs-even a Coca Cola bottle dating back to 1902 was uncovered. This artifact was probably a remnant of the thriving beach and hotel community that existed on Jamaica Bay at the turn of the century. At one point workers came across a backyard deck and chairs that had become detached from a neighboring home.
A walk through the Broad Channel Station was like visiting a ghost station. The floors and walls had been scrubbed and all the debris cleared, even the oil tank that had washed up on the Brooklyn-bound platform. To clear the station, a street crane was brought in to lift the debris over the station fence before depositing it in dump trucks. Everything appeared ready for service, lacking only customers and trains.
A return to service, however, is still four to six months away as a full assessment of the damage sustained by the power and signal systems can only begin when one of the tracks is made completely safe and serviceable.
Our Pledge to You
Before Sandy's arrival, we safely evacuated customers, and secured equipment to weather the storm, and with the intention of bringing service back as soon as we were safely able to do so. Taking into account the breadth of our service area as a whole, we've been able to accomplish a lot. After Sandy, we worked to bring bus and subway service back as swiftly as possible. These efforts are continuing, and for the most part, we are running close to normal subway service. But we realize until we resume full service, your commute will be longer. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.
You have our commitment—we will rebuild.
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