Federal Sandy-aid funds coming soon to LIRR

Flooded escalator in the South Ferry station of Flooded escalator in the South Ferry station of the No. 1 subway line, in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy passed through New York. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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The federal government announced Friday that it will release $886 million in Sandy aid to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reimburse the agency for repairs and upgrades made to the transit system crippled by the superstorm.

The bulk of that money will go to New York City, but a chunk of it, $145.7 million, will help pay for a handful of Long Island Rail Road projects, including the replacement of three of four substations on the Long Beach branch, officials said.

"There are many challenges a transit system faces in the months and years after suffering the types of severe impacts we did during Sandy," said MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast. "The work of rebuilding carries on behind the scenes long after the storm has left the public consciousness."

The $886 million is part of the $3.8 billion the Federal Transit Administration had allocated to the MTA for Sandy-related repairs. Some funds will go to rebuild infrastructure to withstand future storms. The money, which will be available to the MTA next week, represents the first major reimbursement from the federal government in 15 months since Sandy slammed the Northeast.

"With this funding, we are furthering our efforts to reimagine New York's most vital infrastructure to meet the needs of extreme weather," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

Sandy, the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, damaged more than half a million homes in the Northeast and was blamed for more than 100 deaths. On Long Island, Sandy caused $8.4 billion in property and economic losses.

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Of the $145.7 million set aside for LIRR projects, most of that money, $120 million, is for repairs and upgrades to the Long Beach branch, according to state officials.

Construction is already underway to replace the emergency generator, an underwater cable and bridge electrical systems on the Wreck Lead Bridge, which spans Reynolds Channel and connects Long Beach to Island Park. The work also includes restoration of signals, power and communications systems, according to state officials.

New York City Transit will receive $615.6 million, with more than half the money going to repair three subway tunnels under the East River that were severely damaged during Sandy.

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Work has already begun on the Montague tube, the Greenpoint tube and the Steinway tube. These tunnels connect three of the city's five boroughs.

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