The R train returns to Lower Manhattan, but …By
Over a month after the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy swamped the BMT’s Whitehall St. station, R train service to Lower Manhattan will return at 6 a.m. on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday night. There is, however, a key twist though as Whitehall will be serviced by trains that run only between Queens and Manhattan. The Montague St. Tunnel — and thus R train service into and out of Brooklyn — remains shuttered.
“The resumption of service to the Whitehall Street station will restore a vital link to midtown’s west side for Staten Islanders and also ease crowding along the Lexington Avenue Line,” the Governor said in a statement.
Despite this good news, the MTA is issuing word of tempered expectations. Currently, only one escalator at Whitehall St. will be in service as the escalator at the Stone St. entrance remains out of service. The two escalators at the southern end of the station sustained “extensive damage” but one has been repaired. The MTA warns that customers who cannot climb stairs should continue to use Rector St.
To get Whitehall St. station back into service, MTA workers had to repair and replace track, third rail, communications systems, pumping equipment and the electrical systems. Similar work must still take place inside the Montague St. Tunnel. “Transit workers continue to work around the clock to bring the Montague Tube back online,” MTA head Joe Lhota said, “which will complete the R Line link from lower Mnhattan to Downtown Brooklyn.”
According to the Governor’s office, the Montague St. Tunnel should be reactivated by the end of the month. Workers still have to replace hundreds of signal relays, switches and electrical equipment. That official timeline has been pushed back from mid-December due to what New York 1 termed longer-than-expected repairs. The adjoining South Ferry station on the 1 train remains closed until further notice as it sustained serious destruction during the flood.
At this point in the storm recovery, incremental progress is all that we can expect, and once the Montague St. Tunnel returns, we likely won’t have another update for a while. The A train across Broad Channel will remain out of service until the trestle is rebuilt, and it’s currently unclear how long it will take to rebuild the 1 train’s South Ferry terminal. Brooklyn riders will continue to be frustrated, but it sounds like an end is in sight to the pain as the Montague St. Tunnel will race 2013 to see which gets here first.