Home MTA Economics A closer look at the $5 billion Sandy cost breakdown

A closer look at the $5 billion Sandy cost breakdown

by Benjamin Kabak

MTA List No Mitigation

Earlier this morning, I posted on the steep costs of repairs in the aftermath of Sandy, and this afternoon, the Governor’s list of fiscal requests for the MTA hit the net. Via Transportation Nation comes the above list with the detail breakdown. You can also download it from here in PDF form, and the line items are shocking.

We already heard of the $600 million request for the South Ferry/Whitehall St. station, and now we know restoring A train service to the Rockaways will cost even more. The MTA Impact List requests $650 million for the restoration of the Broad Channel service, a figure that will embolden those wondering if restoring the line is the best use of resources. Overall, tracks and signals suffered $300 and $700 million worth of damages respectively, and the Hugh L. Carey (nee Brooklyn-Battery) and Queens-Midtown Tunnels suffered a combined damage total of nearly $800 million.

Further down the line, while the MTA’s major capital projects — the 7 line extension, Fulton St., the Second Ave. Subway and East Side Access — escaped major flood damage (in some cases by 25 feet or so), construction delays have mounted as well. East Side Access suffered $20 million worth of delays while the other three projects totaled around $5.6 million.

All in all, it adds up to $5.022 billion in repairs, and with these figures, it’s safe to assume that it will be awhile before 1 trains return to South Ferry and the A crosses into the Rockaways.

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R. Graham November 27, 2012 - 6:11 pm

That’s a vicious list. I think it’s safe to assume we lost South Ferry for the foreseeable future.

D in Bushwick November 27, 2012 - 6:38 pm

$600 million to restore the new South Ferry Station?! 600?!!!
Are they kidding?
It’s time to get an outside, separate and impartial bid for all these repairs.
Once again, New Yorkers seem to be getting seriously shafted.

John S November 27, 2012 - 7:02 pm

I agree that it’s a crazy amount of money for restoration, but thinking about it some more, realize it could be feasible for less obvious reasons. At first blush, that number is on par with the figure Ben quoted the other day for the recently revamped station. What that misses is that the storm probably destroyed stuff that was perfectly intact before the refurb. As such, it may actually be worse than it was before, and could in fact cost a hell of a lot to redo. The MTA footage of South Ferry being flooded up from the tunnels / plaform to the mezzanine (and then some) was thoroughly dispiriting to me – I have no doubt the station was decimated.

R. Graham November 27, 2012 - 7:37 pm

For get a refurb. This was a brand spanking new station. That salt water destroyed everything, but what we are all overlooking is the fact that the estimate is for both South Ferry and Whitehall together as one when they are in fact two separate stations.

Nathanael November 27, 2012 - 10:38 pm

Yep. The Whitehall St. damage is probably pretty substantial, and it’s all *old* stuff.

al November 27, 2012 - 11:04 pm

Read again. It is South Ferry / Whitehall restoration. That includes the Montague tunnel under the East River, as well as the relay facility south of Broad St on the Nassau Line.

Phantom November 27, 2012 - 6:48 pm

Until there is reform of NY Labor Laws, which drive costs through the roof, taxpayers should strike.

No new major projects until costs and the liability and featherbedding regime that drives them, are brought into line.

John-2 November 27, 2012 - 7:02 pm

Given the damage in the Rockaways and the disruptions of life out there, along with Gov. Cuomo’s high-profile announcement of the return of the H train via trucking the R-32s out there, if it’s a battle of $600 million-plus projects, the trestle repairs are going to win out over the South Ferry station, especially given the newness of the terminal and the costs involved (i.e., while it may have cost 50 times as much to rebuild Yankee Stadium in 2010 as it did to refurbish it in 1974-75, and eight times as much to fix it up as it cost to build it originally in 1922-23, there are at least decent time gaps between those projects to offset the “WTF” aspect of the cost slightly. Going to the public and telling them it’s going to cost almost 10 percent more to rebuild South Ferry than it cost to build a station that hasn’t even been open four years is a guaranteed way to generate public outrage).

They might as well already be drawing up contingency plans to dust off those platform extenders, put the loop signalling back in and get the C/Rs on the 1 train to start practicing their “The Doors Open on Only the Front Five Cars at South Ferry” lines again, because that’s the direction the situation is headed.

Nathanael November 27, 2012 - 10:42 pm

It would probably be illegal to start using the loop station at South Ferry again; it’s not ADA-compliant. The station will be closed until the new station is fixed.

Restoring the trestle across Broad Channel is going to be MUCH harder than it looks; it goes through environmentally sensitive wetlands. Last time it was built, the environmental laws didn’t even exist and they could just dump fill into the water. They *cannot* do that now.

The locations of the channels and islands changed during Sandy, so they can’t restore it exactly as it was before anyway; it will involve major engineering, not just construction work. (The South Ferry work is just construction work.)

The Broad Channel trestle is a mistake and should be dismantled and scrapped; it has to cost less than $650 million to reconnect Mott Av to Far Rockaway and run direct trains that way.

John-2 November 28, 2012 - 9:29 am

Angling for a 2016 presidential run and needing a big win in 2014 to kick-start that effort, Cuomo sunk a lot of his credibility into restoration of life in the Rockaways. He’s not taking the PR hit that would entail by scuttling rebuilding of the Rockaway trestle after making such a big show of moving those R-32 trains out there (and, if the rebuild hasn’t started in the next few months, it will also become an issue in the 2013 mayoral campaign, modern EPA regs be damned).

As for South Ferry, the ADA problems of the old station are there, but remember, the headhouse for the old station is both at street level and inside the SI Ferry terminal. My guess is if Cuomo or some others in the MTA or even the city government push the matter, they can probably extend the headhouse westward 10 feet or so behind the old fare control to sink a shaft for a down-and-dirty ADA-compliant elevator, if that’s what it takes to get the 1 back to South Ferry sooner than 2-3 years from now (as you’d expect with a $600 million rehab number floating around — it takes time to spent that amount of $$$).

Nathanael November 28, 2012 - 4:17 pm

Yeah, that might work for South Ferry.

The Rockaways situtation — throwing good money after bad.

John-2 November 28, 2012 - 4:27 pm

Don’t disagree about the cost-vs.-benefit problem with rebuilding the trestle. I just think the politics are going to drive this through, because you’ve got a governor seeking higher office who wants to show state and national voters (and the media) he can Get Things Done in the run-up to 2016, even if doing them isn’t the most sensible thing in the world (and on the mayoral hopeful level, if this becomes a 2013 issue, you’ve got at least 3-4 hopefuls who might talk a good environmental game, but who would deep-fry an endangered California condor if that’s what it took to get the votes of the Rockaway residents they’d need to win next year’s primary).

Eric F November 28, 2012 - 1:46 pm

The environmental laws won’t allow the reconstruction of an existing, damaged train line. That is awesome.

Nathanael November 28, 2012 - 4:16 pm

It’s in the middle of a national wildlife refuge and there are new estuaries running through the middle of it. The environmental laws *shouldn’t* allow the reconstruction of this line. The line should never have been built. Really, permanent housing on the Rockaways should never have been built.

Eric November 28, 2012 - 4:44 pm


Eric F November 29, 2012 - 8:39 am

There were wetlands all over Manhattan as well. Your plan to depopulate the Rockaways is duly noted. Presumably JFK airport should also be restored to swamp.

Eric January 23, 2013 - 7:22 am

No, just extend the LIRR line along the Rockaways using the current subway track. It wouldn’t cost more than a few million dollars for track connections, and some more for signaling. No need to depopulate the Rockaways or JFK.

JJJ November 27, 2012 - 7:47 pm

A city-wide gondola system would have cost pennies compared to this, and suffered no storm damage.

Bolwerk November 28, 2012 - 5:39 pm

You want to replace the subway system with a glorified ski lift?

Frank B November 27, 2012 - 9:34 pm

Hugh L Carey Tunnel?

Maybe next week I’ll take the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge crosstown from Queens, to the Joe DiMaggio Highway, then take it down to the Hugh L Carey Tunnel, then travel back to Queens again using the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

Of course, that’s assuming Brooklyn hasn’t been renamed Giuliani and Queens renamed Bloomberg by then.

Honestly, the Media’s insistence to use that name during the crisis was plain irresponsible; you’d be surprised how few people listen to the news or read newspapers.

If you want to force a new name on people everyday, it’s merely politically pandering. No real harm done. Maybe some people unaware of the renaming will get stuck in traffic, no big deal.

However, if you use it during an emergency, then it becomes dangerous and havoc creating; what if there were people frantically trying to get out of Brooklyn and heard on the radio that “Carey Tunnel is closed,” and tried to get to the still-open Brooklyn-Battery, only to find that it was flooded to the ceiling, with no escape out of the city?

The MTA and the media’s insistence on using this name during a crisis could have had serious repercussions.

Jeff November 28, 2012 - 12:15 pm

Don’t forget the Ed Koch Bridge…

pea-jay November 27, 2012 - 11:05 pm

Does the price tag really matter if it is all federal bucks? That would represent all new (and unplanned for) revenue to fix/replace what was (South Ferry excepting) pretty old infrastructure. Then if the fixes actually result in some increased resiliency in the system, isn’t this exercise a net positive for the MTA? Again I’m presuming this won’t be sapping from allocated capital improvement dollars here.

Bolwerk November 28, 2012 - 5:42 pm

Does the price tag really matter if it is all federal bucks?

Yes, politically, it matters. We don’t want to lose down the road because we shagged this.

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Phantom November 28, 2012 - 9:24 am

We are presumably all US taxpayers here.

The price absolutely does matter to me even if the Feds are stupid enough to pay for all of it.

Jeff November 28, 2012 - 12:16 pm

The Feds can just print money to pay for it. They’ll be fine.

Bolwerk November 28, 2012 - 5:40 pm

It matters, but it also means you might get some more of your own money back from the feds. It’s not like NYS hasn’t been paying through the nose to buy infrastructure elsewhere for generations.

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