New York transit operators to be reimbursed $1.4B for Sandy repairs

Crews work on damaged switches in Long Beach

Crews work on damaged switches in Long Beach as service returns to Long Beach LIRR branch in Long Beach. (Nov. 14, 2012) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Federal transportation officials Friday doled out $1.4 billion to the New York region as reimbursement for repairs and upgrades to transit systems devastated by superstorm Sandy.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said the bulk of the Federal Transit Administration funding will go to rail and tunnel operators, including the Long Island Rail Road, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Department of Transportation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

About $545 million was cut from the appropriation because of mandatory funding cuts known as sequestration, which began on March 1, LaHood said.


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"Every dollar sent to New York from the Sandy aid bill means one less dollar that has to be provided by local taxpayers alone," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The LIRR is looking to recover $267 million in damages, including $80 million for repairs inside the East River tunnels. Twelve feet of Sandy's corrosive floodwaters filled the tunnels, and it took workers six weeks to make repairs.

The railroad is seeking $45 million in federal reimbursement for its Long Beach line, which suffered the most extensive damage of any LIRR branch. Tracks and electrical components were submerged under 4 feet of corrosive salt water and sewage. Flooding damaged three electrical substations, and storm surge dumped nearly two dozen boats and personal watercraft onto the tracks.

The historic flooding caused by the Oct. 29 storm hit the MTA's subway system hardest. The agency has said it will cost $650 million to rebuild the A line to Far Rockaway, and another $600 million to replace the South Ferry subway station in Manhattan.

"The MTA did an outstanding job restoring service to our customers after suffering the worst damage ever to befall our transportation network, but we are still working very hard behind the scenes to replace damaged equipment, rebuild infrastructure and restore the system to the way it was before Sandy struck," MTA acting chairman Fernando Ferrer said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expecting $275 million, most of which will be used to reimburse the cost of restoring the PATH train line. A total of $159 million previously allocated went to signal repair, new wires and train switches, and pumping water out of the train tunnel, a Port Authority official said.

Federal Transit Administration chief Peter Rogoff said one-third of the nation's transit riders use the New York region's rails and tunnels heavily damaged by Sandy.

"It's imperative that we continue this rapid progress to restore these systems," Rogoff said.

The new allocation of disaster funding comes from the FTA's emergency relief program. More than $574 million has already been sent to the tri-state region for transit repairs.

Sandy's storm surge caused "unprecedented damage" to regional transit systems, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.

"New York worked hard to make its case," he said. "I'm glad the MTA is continuing to get the help it needs to be reimbursed for its Sandy costs."

President Barack Obama in January signed a Sandy disaster-relief bill providing $60.4 billion in federal aid. The legislation included emergency transit funding totaling $10.9 billion.

Where the funds went

Metropolitan Transportation Authority, $1,000,415,662

New York City Dept. of Transportation, $12,029,487

Port Authority, $275,156,637

New Jersey Transit Corp., $86,774,558

Other agencies:

$28,048,497

Grand total:

$1.402 billion

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