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MTA files $65M in Irene claims

The rails of the Port Jervis Line were

The rails of the Port Jervis Line were undermined by flood waters between Sloatsburg and Suffern in Rockland County. (2011) Credit: MTA

One year after Tropical Storm Irene flooded train tracks, subway tunnels and bus lanes, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday it had finished submitting claims for $65 million to the federal government and insurance providers.

MTA officials said they have submitted $27.7 million in claims for reimbursement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and another $37.3 million in claims to 13 insurance companies.

Agency spokesman Aaron Donovan said the MTA expects to recover "the lion's share" of the costs it incurred from the Aug. 28, 2011, storm, which caused an unprecedented shutdown of the region's public transportation system -- the largest in the United States.

Chairman Joseph Lhota in a statement lauded employees who "worked tirelessly, both to minimize damage in preparing for the storm and to make the repairs needed to restore service as quickly as possible," as well as administrative employees who worked to get reimbursements.

"Completing this massive task in less than a year is a testament to their dedication," Lhota said.

MTA officials said they are seeking to recover the costs of repairing storm-related damage to the transit system, as well as employee overtime costs and lost fare revenue while service was suspended.

The MTA must make an insurance-deductible payment of $25 million, but expects that to be covered by the money it will receive from FEMA.

Metro-North Railroad was hit the hardest of all of the MTA's agencies -- $27 million in costs, including for its devastated Port Jervis line, officials said.

The Long Island Rail Road reported the least costs among the MTA's agencies -- $5.7 million in damages, including for "systemwide storm preparations and a massive after-storm cleanup at a significant cost" to the agency, the MTA said in its statement.

Irene blew dozens of utility poles onto LIRR tracks, flooded rail yards and knocked out power to crossing gates. The railroad restored service to more than half its lines by the Monday after the storm, but it took five days for all service to be restored.

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