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State gets $1.9B to protect LIRR, subways from storms

A train enters foggy Jamaica station as LIRR

A train enters foggy Jamaica station as LIRR resumes full service for the first time since superstore Sandy on Dec. 10, 2012. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The federal government has awarded New York more than $1.9 billion in superstorm Sandy funding to strengthen its public transportation infrastructure, including at the Long Island Rail Road, officials announced Wednesday.

Although the $1.915 billion isn't enough to cover all the transit-hardening projects proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March -- including a plan to bring the Metro-North Railroad into Penn Station -- it will pay for efforts to prevent flooding at rail yards in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, seal street-level openings to the New York City subway system, and to protect the East River rail tunnels primarily used by the LIRR, officials said.

"Adjusting to the new reality of extreme weather is a collaborative effort, and the more than $1.9 billion awarded today by the federal government will help us build a stronger and more resilient New York," Cuomo said in a statement. "This funding will ensure that our State has the resources it needs to continue building back stronger and better than ever before."

Of the $1.9 billion allotted to the state, $1.6 billion will go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was particularly devastated by the Oct. 29, 2012, storm. Sandy flooded rail and subway tunnels with saltwater, destroying delicate electrical components and decimating New York City Transit's Rockaway subway line.

Regular service on the R subway line, impacted by the flooding of the Montague Tube tunnel under the East River, was not restored until Sunday -- nearly two years after the storm.

"With each passing day, the MTA puts superstorm Sandy further behind us as we restore service and repair our infrastructure," said MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast. Next week, he will unveil further efforts to shore up the transit system with the release of the agency's next five-year capital plan.

"But we also know that similar events are ahead, so we are building back better, making our transportation network stronger, more resistant to major storms and thus more resilient," Prendergast said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will receive $212 million in Federal Transit Administration funding for New York projects, and the New York City Department of Transportation will get about $200 million, officials said.

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