Home Asides Some forward-thinking as PATH resumes 24/7 pre-Sandy service

Some forward-thinking as PATH resumes 24/7 pre-Sandy service

by Benjamin Kabak

Without much fanfare, the Port Authority has restored PATH train service to its pre-Sandy levels. Via a Tweet early Wednesday evening, the agency announced that weekend service to and from the World Trade Center and Exchange Place will commence this Friday. For Jersey City-bound travelers coming from points south in New York City, this announcement — unaccompanied by a press release — is a welcome one.

PATH’s service restoration comes nearly four months to do the day after we witnessed stunning video footage of water flooding through PATH’s system. Although the PA wasn’t nearly as transparent with its post-Sandy images or plans, we heard that water completely flooded the tunnel between Lower Manhattan and Exchange Place, and a subsequent escalator malfunction at Exchange Place was seemingly the result of such flooding. Four months and countless dollars later, PATH service — an oft-underlooked but key element of the region’s transit system — has been restored.

Yet, even with the good news, I am left wondering what now? The Port Authority hasn’t been too forthcoming with its plans, but now that service levels have been restored to pre-Sandy levels, the PA must placate concerns over future storms and future flooding. Will the agency invest in storm and flood mitigation efforts? Will the new $4 billion PATH hub in Lower Manhattan be protected from future storm surges? According to one report, Sandy cost PATH 18 months on that project, but subsequent denials cast doubt on that story. If those delays were due to hardening efforts, it would probably be a worthwhile one.

We cannot as a region afford to look this gift horse in the mouth. Outside of the Rockaways, South Ferry and New Jersey Transit’s inane treatment of its rolling stock, transit services were restored to pre-Sandy levels very quickly. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing is an adequate response today or for the future. Be it PATH, New Jersey Transit or the MTA, our transit agencies should be preparing for the next storm now and not three days before it’s due to hit.

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John-2 February 28, 2013 - 12:56 am

You’d hope for $3-point-whatever billion Santiago Calatrava and PATH engineers would have designed some sort of tube and/or station entrance plug into the system, especially since flooding of the tubes occurred as a result of the 9/11 attack, so the problem that reoccurred as a result of Sandy was already known to the planners of the new complex.

Someone February 28, 2013 - 7:44 am

Hopefully that $3 billion $4 billion investment amounts to something, otherwise it would have been a waste.

Jerrold February 28, 2013 - 10:15 am

Underlooked? I think you meant “underrated” or “overlooked”.

Anyway, it certainly was ABOUT TIME for the total PATH restoration to happen.
Now I’d like to hear just what the MTA has decided to do about South Ferry.

John-2 February 28, 2013 - 11:13 am

Via Subchat from Wednesday, here’s a shot of the opening between the old South Ferry station and the new SF mezzanine being widened.

Downtown 1 trains turned at Chambers overnight on Tuesday, and there’s video out there of workers in the old loop station. So while the MTA has said nothing yet about reopening the upper platform, there are some strong hints out and about that they’re going to reopen the upper platform.

Someone February 28, 2013 - 11:31 am

The MTA should never have cemented the mezzanine to the upper SF in the first place, just in case something like Sandy would happen.

BoerumHillScott February 28, 2013 - 11:08 am

The up escalator at Exchange Place is still out one or two days a week, and it is 128 steps up to the street level from the platform.

lawhawk February 28, 2013 - 11:37 am

Nice to see PATH finally fully restored.

The flooding issues at the Hudson tubes between WTC and EXP are one issue. Flooding within the WTC station is another.

The flooding of the tubes occurred from both the EXP and WTC sides, so unless the PANY rebuilds the entrance areas for both the escalator bank at EXP and the elevators, a Sandy-sized surge will flood the station again.

Flooding at the WTC is a slightly different beast.

IIRC, water came thundering through the PATH station from where the Vehicle Security Center is being built on the southwest corner of the WTC site, as well as the WFC construction of the East-West connector.

It didn’t come from the Memorial area or even from 1WTC (if it had, the escalator bank at PATH hill would surely have been out of commission for an extended period of time). The VSC allows vehicles to transit to the various buildings on site underground for loading/unloading. It also sits at the low end of the site. Those are the areas that will likely be the source of future flooding in a Sandy-type event.

Until those vulnerabilities are addressed, the PATH hub remains threatened by a Sandy-type surge.

The Phantom February 28, 2013 - 1:12 pm

Restoration of PATH service to WTC – great news for NJ– and for lower Manhattan and its businesses too. A really big deal.



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