2013-05-17 / Front Page

Ahead Of Schedule

“A” TRAIN Rolls Again
By Dan Guarino

All aboard! The A Train is coming back.

Although criticized by riders for many years, the A Train was sorely missed by those commuters who have had to spend the last seven months seeking alternative means of transportation.

Although the MTA had issued statements that the line would not reopen until mid- June at the earliest, the line is now set to return to service on May 30th.

On Thursday, May 16th, Governor Cuomo announced that service on the subway line heavily damaged during Sandy will resume. This follows an unprecedented, six month, all-out effort by the MTA to rebuild 1,500 feet of washed-out tracks, replace miles of signal, power and communications wires, and rehabilitate two stations that were completely flooded.

Reaction on Facebook and Twitter was overwhelmingly positive.

Commented Michael Hill, “I never thought I’d be happy to wait for a shuttle train at Broad Channel, because the Q53 is so bad.”

Others were not as quick to celebrate. “I’ll believe it when I see it. Like the beaches reopening by next week, I’m skeptical,” said a woman, who identified herself as Carol, who works in Rockaway Beach.

One currently displaced Broad Channel man commented, “It’s hard to believe, it’s been out of commission for so long.”

“I heard it was a real mess,” said one Rockaway man. “They pulled all kinds of stuff off the tracks—boats! Everything.”

Others were concerned about what the A train’s re-opening will mean for other transportation options on the peninsula.

Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, a Rockaway to Manhattan ferry service was instituted, which has proven to be popular with local residents. Some were concerned about the ferry’s future.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Seastreak, the company which runs the ferry, indicated they have no plans to stop services, saying “We will continue to run until the city says otherwise.”

“Taking the ferry and the buses has been really nice, said Janis, a resident of Broad Channel. “I think the ferry makes Rockaway much better.”

New work undertaken along the stretch between Rockaway and Howard Beach has included installing a corrugated steel sheet marine wall along two miles of the right-of-way. The wall runs through Broad Channel and along Jamaica Bay.

Each sheet has been driven 30 feet into the ground to anchor the wall, which will protect the track against future washouts and ensure the line is ready to handle further coastal storms.

“Superstorm Sandy devastated the entire MTA network like no other storm,” said Cuomo, “but the MTA did a remarkable job of restoring service following the storm and at the end of this month, the A line in the Rockaways will be up and running,”

“The last six months,” he said, “have meant substantial cleanup and repair, leading to the rapid restoration of full service in all but the hardest-hit facilities.

“Now we must focus on the priority and challenge of making permanent repairs to keep the subways safe and reliable for years to come. The people and businesses of New York depend on a strong and robust mass transit system.

“The difficult work of rebuilding the system to be stronger and more resilient has just begun, but we will build back better and smarter than before.”

The MTA has also established a new Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division dedicated to advancing and managing the rebuilding from Sandy, which will require years of construction and careful oversight of billions of dollars in federal aid.

Proposed plans will call for protecting stations, fan plants, under-river tubes, tunnels, ground-level tracks, signals, train shops and yards, traction power substations, circuit breaker houses, bus depots, train towers and public areas. The goal is to protect all points where the subway system could be flooded during a storm.

The Division has already issued 16 task orders to qualified architectural and engineering design firms to design system repairs and study best practices from flood-proofing resiliency efforts around the world. They will also investigate how these designs can be applied to the New York City subway system and develop schematic designs for construction. Plans will be presented as early as this summer.

Said MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast, “We are using all means available to jump-start this effort, so we can not only restore our system to the condition it was in before Sandy struck, but harden it against similar storms that we expect to arrive in the future.”

Prendergast has been nominated to be the MTA’s next Chairman and CEO.

The MTA system suffered an estimated $4.755 billion worth of damage as railroad and subway lines, vehicular tunnels, subway stations and power and signal equipment were inundated with corrosive salt water during Sandy. The MTA has already been allocated nearly $1.2 billion in funding from the Federal Transit Administration for repair and disaster relief work initiated by New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road and other MTA divisions, as well as $3 million from the FEMA for MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

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