Lhota: MTA ‘assessing extent’ of damage from ‘devastating’ storm


As the MTA begins to address the fact that water infiltrated the subway system during the storm surge from Sandy on Monday night, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota issued a statement on efforts to restore subway and other transit service. There is currently no timeline for our trains and buses to come back, but crews are working on the system now. Lhota does not mince his words, and his assessment is grave.

The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots.

As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The [Brooklyn-Battery] Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water.

We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery.

Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

The subways last flooded in mid-December of 1992 when all service was suspended and only three tunnels filled with water. Some service was restored the same day, but the L train, for instance, was out of service for several days. It’s too early to tell how serious the damage from Sandy is, but all indications are that it was worse than the 1992 storm. Some service over the city’s bridges could come back soon, but it’s going to be a while before the subways are back at full strength.

Categories : Service Advisories

17 Responses to “Lhota: MTA ‘assessing extent’ of damage from ‘devastating’ storm”

  1. nyland8 says:

    Thanks for the ongoing updates and the much needed historical context, Benjamin.

  2. Larry Littlefield says:

    The tunnels don’t have interlockings, power rooms, etc. So if only the tunnels are flooded, perhaps service will be back in a few days. The question is, did the floodwaters move up to Chambers Street and points north? That’s what they couldn’t allow.

  3. JE says:

    At a time like this, Lhota should know better than to confuse commuters with the brand new “Carey Tunnel” designation. Can’t you continue to call it the “Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel” for a few more days?

    • Bolwerk says:

      Yeah, took me a second to match the new placenames with the places too. I just like the old names better, too.

    • nyland8 says:

      Renaming places in the city whose names are descriptive of where they are is pathological.

      The Triboro is the bridge that spans three boroughs.
      The Queens Midtown Tunnel is the tunnel that goes between midtown and Queens.

      It’s not a difficult concept. If you want to rename something because it represents millions in revenue – Like Barclay Center – then take the money and run. But renaming things on a political basis is not only wrong, it’s sick.

      • pete says:

        You have to reward the guy that first got you on your first primary.

        • nyland8 says:

          Is that how 7th Ave became Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.?? Did Fredric Douglas get someone’s first primary to take over the name 8th Ave?

          It’s not a difficult concept. If there’s a descriptive or historic element to the name of anything in the city, it shouldn’t be changed. Period. It compounds confusion for generations to come.

          I’m a native New Yorker, and I have a hard time remembering that when I’m going north on Lexington, it will become something else.

  4. DW says:

    A sad day in NYC and the East Coast.
    It’s time for the subways and road tunnels to be rebuilt with gates to prevent future flooding which will be inevitable.

  5. DF says:

    From Cuomo’s press conference, looks like tomorrow we will get to see what happens when the buses are running (and free) and the trains are not.

  6. Kevin C says:

    River tunnels have only a very limited number of apertures (one on each end and the rare vent-shaft). All these should be “corked”/”gated” in advance of a storm surge. The goal wouldn’t be airtightness, but to limit water inflows to what the tunnel’s pumps can handle

    The MTA should probably plan on stations flooding–stations have soo many ways for water to get in, although you might be able to have a curb or berm around the ones most likely to flood.

    I picture a floodgates on either side of each station (or vent building).

    Boston has this at South Station on the Red Line: The station can flood but there’s a floodgate to seal the Dorchester tunnel.

  7. Tim says:

    Well, guess it’s good we had a dress rehearsal last year.

  8. jimboylan says:

    The under river subway tunnels do have signals, to allow trains to safely follow each other closely. Even if the unthinkable was allowed, of manual operation or 1 train at a time in the wet section until the signals are fixed, there would still be huge delays.


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