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WASHINGTON - The MTA is teaming up with other public transportation providers in the region to ask the federal government for about $600 million in projects aimed at strengthening Penn Station and its supporting infrastructure from future disasters, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.
The list of projects for which the agencies are seeking federal Sandy funding include a $310 million "River to Resiliency" effort led by the Long Island Rail Road to protect tunnels feeding into Penn Station and train yards on Manhattan's West Side and in Sunnyside from floodwaters. It also calls for more resilient "high-density" train signals inside the East River Tunnels and new perimeter protection for ventilation shafts.
The coordinating agencies, which include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Moynihan Station Development Corp., are submitting the projects for funding through the Federal Transit Administration, which has made available $3 billion in grant money for transit agencies affected by superstorm Sandy.
Applications must be submitted by Friday, and FTA officials have encouraged public transportation providers to work together on projects that will benefit them.
The October 29, 2012, storm devastated Penn's support system, flooding tunnels 12-feet high and destroying critical electrical components.
"If not for the grace of God, Penn Station would have flooded during Sandy, and we can't leave it to chance the next time," said Schumer, who said he asked the transit agencies to work together in a plan to create a "Penn Station Resiliency Corridor."
Other proposed projects that would shore up the overall Penn Station complex include extending a concrete casing under 11th Avenue that will house a future tunnel under the Hudson River; relocating equipment, including a generator, a substation and an elevator machine room, and waterproofing 100-year-old steel structures at the adjacent Farley post office building that will house the future Moynihan Amtrak Station. Another proposal includes creating a new microgrid electrical system for NJ Transit.
"The bottom line is, if these projects are funded, we can stop Penn from flooding," Schumer said. "This is the biggest transit hub in the country and it's worth spending this money to keep it above water."