2013-05-03 / Front Page

“A Line” Update Test Runs Start In May

By Miriam Rosenberg

Check off the week of May 17th on your calendar. That is the target date for the MTA to begin testing the various systems in Rockaway that were washed out during Sandy.

Six months after the devastating storm, Rockaway is still operating under emergency transportation set up by the MTA after the tracks between Rockaway and Howard Beach were inundated by water and debris. Last week representatives from the MTA appeared before the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) at MTA Headquarters in Manhattan to give an update on Sandy repairs.

While he could not give an exact date, Joe Leader, the vice president and CMO for NYC Transit Maintenance of Way – a division inside the MTA – explained the startup process.

“We are in the process of planning to start testing systems …the week of May 17 with an eye toward a June opening, the exact date in June I cannot commit to here,” said Leader on April 25th. “We have to work through this test process.”

Leader said that all the systems – signaling, power, and communications – were destroyed by the storm. In addition tracks and security fences were washed away. There was six feet of water across the tracks.

“We had a river running under our tracks,” said John O’Grady, the program director capital program management. He explained that, with each tide, the water underneath expanded by 300 feet. “We had tons and tons of debris – household, vegetative and restaurant materials – on the tracks.”

It took two months to get rid of the debris and then a month to test each cable in a system that includes miles and miles of cable. After assessing the damage, the MTA began ordering the different types of cable and other supplies needed for repairs.

The MTA reps warned that the targeted date is not set in stone.

“Some of the cable is still being produced as we speak,” said Leader. “People ask me when we’re going to come back. It’s all assuming we get the cable as we have been told.”

As part of the work, there is a new containment system along the two and a half mile embankment of the North Channel Bridge. It is five to seven feet above the tracks and will protect the embankment from being washed out and keep the electronic components from being damaged again.

The nearly half dozen locals who made the trek into Manhattan for the meeting had more on their minds than just the subway repairs. These residents wanted answers as to why there was not any alternative service west of Beach 90th Street to get between the mainland and the west end of Rockaway without going to Far Rockaway.

“There’s no reasonable way to get home from Queens to Rockaway after midnight,” said Stanley Shulman. “The Q53 stops running at midnight.”

Kevin Bautz said, “Broad Channel has no service.”

Phillip McManus, another Rockaway resident, told the members of NYCTRC, “We need your help. The best you can do right now is 24-hour service. Not just the Q53…. Also the Q52.”

Noreen Ellis, who took her lunch hour to be at the meeting, further explained the problems on the Q53.

“In a community where we do not have any alternatives right now [if you miss the last Q53] you have to take a $30 car service home,” said Ellis. “When the buses do come along in normal hours, because there are no shuttles, there are three times as many riders looking to get on that same bus.”

The presentation by Leader and O’Grady centered on before, during and after the storm city-wide. Due to what was called, “a miscommunication,” they did not realize the meeting was Rockaway oriented.

Leader told residents, “I can honestly tell you that we are doing everything we can.”

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