MTA aiming for shorter South Ferry repair timeline

By · Published in 2013

The South Ferry terminal may reopen to passengers sooner than anticipated, but it may still be a while. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

With Staten Island representatives breathing down their necks, Transit officials yesterday pledged to reopen the 1 train’s South Ferry terminal station as soon as possible. Although formal plans have yet to be drawn up, New York City Transit President and current MTA Executive Director Thomas Prendergast said that he hopes to restore passenger service to the station before cosmetic and other infrastructure needs are fully addressed.

One day after Staten Island’s MTA Board representative Allen Cappelli called upon the authority to reopen the decommissioned (and also damaged) South Ferry loop, Prendergast placated the borough’s concerns. “There are ways to restore service before the work is completed,” he said.

Ken Paulsen of the Staten Island Advance had more:

The MTA’s interim head said the agency is not considering re-opening the “old” South Ferry station so it can focus on getting trains rolling in the new station ahead of the three-year timetable set for its reconstruction. Interim Executive Director Tom Prendergast told the Advance Wednesday that the MTA — with funding now in place — is working to restore basic subway service to the station, even if behind-the-scenes work needs to continue long afterwards…

No one is talking about an imminent return to service at the new South Ferry station, but he sees a similar dynamic at play [as the one that quickly repaired the Staten Island Rail Road]: Get the riders back on the trains as quickly as possible, before the cosmetic or behind-the-scenes work is completed.

Predergast said it would require a huge effort to re-open the decommissioned old station — and that would no doubt affect efforts to get trains back into the new station before 2016. The old station was shut down in 2009 when the new one opened, and there was never any consideration that it would be placed back in service, he said. Means of access have been altered or shut down. Significant rebuilding and construction work would be required to make it accessible once again to passengers. The bottom line: “It would divert resources away from how fast we could get the new South Ferry up and restored,” he said.

According to the Advance, Transit’s next steps is to “formalize its assessment and plan to rebuild South Ferry,” and with federal funds on hand, it can begin to move forward with that planning. There is, however, no real timetable for a return to service, and as far as I can tell, even a best-case scenario would involve numerous weekend diversions once service returns and significant work on the terminal even before that.

Categories : Manhattan

33 Responses to “MTA aiming for shorter South Ferry repair timeline”

  1. John-2 says:

    The faster the MTA can get lower SF back into service the fewer calls there were be to reactivate the upper station on a temporary basis (and if they can just get the station functional on a Monday-Friday daytime basis, with trains using the loop and ending at Rector nights and on weekends, that would lower a lot of a controversy about the repair schedule, if not the cost).

  2. Someone says:

    That station really needs a big cleaning-up, judging by the dirtiness of the station as depicted in the picture.

  3. D in B says:

    It’s been over 90 days since Sandy. If the Chinese or Spanish were involved, this station would now be open and under budget. “As soon as possible” and $600 Million is beyond ridiculous…

    • Someone says:

      Try again. The Chinese build things quickly, yes. The Spanish don’t build things that fast.

    • VLM says:

      I realize it’s all the rage to point at the Spanish and be jealous, but I’m getting sick of arm-chair engineers. The $600 million extends beyond only the South Ferry terminal, and the $600 million isn’t just for the rebuild of the station as you saw it in October. This isn’t a tough concept to grasp yet it appears to be one that folks who wish our economy were as pathetically robust as Spain’s can’t seem to understand.

      • pete says:

        If there is a will, there is a way. A 40 story condo tower takes 12 months from hole to opening. A subway should be constructed atleast as fast (sq ft per day/feet of height or tunnel length per day).

      • al says:

        There needs to be a realization that Contractors from Spain have snapped up local contractors. Grupo ACS controls Turner, Schiavone and Dragados. OHL controls Judlau.

      • Someone says:

        Spain might be economically flourishing, but it doesn’t build and renovate subway stations in three months, either.

    • Nathanael says:

      Rebuilding signals is not quick or cheap. Especially with an obsolete signal system.

      The obsolete signal system is becoming an Achilles Heel for the NYC Subway. When all your parts are custom, it’s a pain in the neck to do repairs.

  4. Peter Laws says:

    Spanish, I don’t know. Certainly they have the construction skills but can they totally suppress civil rights to “get things done” the way the Chinese can? Generalissimo Fransisco Franco is still dead, right?

    I have still yet to see how a station that cost $500B to build could cost $600B to clean up less than 10 years later. Yeah, yeah, “Storm of the Whatever”. I get it, saw the videos, water throughout. So what? The picture above doesn’t support a $600B bill. Yes, yes, the electrical stuff, the seawater, I get it. But come on – $600B to replace the electrical stuff and redecorate? Are we to believe that actually digging the tunnels was a tiny fraction of the original cost?

    I’m not buying.

    • Brian says:

      million not billion

    • Someone says:

      Read it again. The bill is only $600 million. And most of that money is being used to replace all of the electrical equipment and vital signalling infrastructure destroyed by Sandy.

      • John says:

        Regardless, his point still stands. Substitute the word ‘million’ for the world ‘billion’ in his post. It cost $500 million to build the station in the first place, and more to refurbish it. Doesn’t make sense.

        • VLM says:

          It makes perfect sense when you realize the $600 million is more than just a rebuild of the station. It involves substantially more work than that.

          • pete says:

            A $100 nut and $200/hr labor will give you $600 million to fish a couple wires and slide in 20 rack unit computers into a couple racks. These are NASA prices without the reliability.

            • Someone says:

              $600 million to fish a couple wires and slide in 20 rack unit computers into a couple racks.

              And multiply it by 10,000.

            • D.R. Graham says:

              I’m not sure that you realize the scoop of the work. Signal engineering is no small bag of chips. And what people don’t realize is all of the salt and all of the mold must be cleaned and cleared of all areas where signaling equipment exists. I’m not even talking about typical station areas. I’m still on signals and signals are highly expensive. If they were so cheap the Dyre line would have received an upgrade instead of using the same standard that became the norm since the opening of the IRT some time back in the 50s or 60s.

              • Eric says:

                The old $500 million station included the cost for signals (and much else). Even if signals were the entire cost (they obviously weren’t), then spend $1 million on ripping out the old system, $500 million on new signals, and you still haven’t reached $600 million.

                • Someone says:

                  The waterproofing work that the MTA wants to do to SF, in itself, may cost another hundred million dollars.

                • D.R. Graham says:

                  The old $500 million was also built from scratch. I didn’t need to be cleaned end to end. It was cleanly built. No parts needed to be ripped out. They were installed fresh. This is essentially double the work.

              • Nathanael says:

                If signals were cheap, we wouldn’t find the Class I (freight) railroads still using wig-wags and semaphores. They avoid replacing signals if at all possible.

                (They do, now, have to replace nearly all of their signals due to the PTC mandate. Some of those signals are over 100 years old and really should have been replaced some time ago.)

      • Phantom says:

        He said – only – $600 million

    • al says:

      The MTA probably wants to redo the station box with extensive waterproofing. That will require lots of soil grouting and slurry walls.

  5. Peter Laws says:

    Yes, yes, Million, not Billion. Point still stands – this is a boondoggle.

  6. Ted K. says:

    I think the confusion comes from the difference between “South Ferry Repair Project” and “South Ferry Station”. The repair project has three components (roughly) :
    1) South Ferry Station (SFS) cleanup and repair;
    2) Track and signals in the vicinity of SFS;
    3) Control center at SFS rebuild / relocate.

    The last one is the ball buster of the three due to the possibility of moving the sector (?) control center to a new, HIGHER location. The alternative is to rebuild at the old location with as much water tightness as is possible. The station is the cheap part – the signals and the control center are going to eat up the bulk of the $600M.

    [West coast railfan]

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