Superstorm Sandy, the polar vortex, and even building explosions in Harlem have all stopped New York transit at different points. Roadways, trains, subways have all shut down due to extreme weather, so now the state is investing in a resiliency plan for transportation.
At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and the Moynihan Station Development Corporation (MSDC) worked together to prepare a plan that considered transportation needs and priorities on a regional level, in order to protect against stronger and more frequent storms in the future. The announcement of the plan is notable on its own merits, but also because of remarks made by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a press conference on Friday suggesting that the Port Authority could be divided.
Much of the plan focuses northward, providing more transit options for Metro-North and Long Island Railroad riders. A key element of the plan is protecting commuter railroad access into Manhattan, by hardening Penn Station’s existing railroad service and providing alternate service to Penn Station for MTA Metro-North Railroad customers in the event of a single-point failure along its existing network through upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
Governor Cuomo’s plan will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which has made $3 billion available for resiliency programs throughout the region affected by Sandy. The New York plan includes projects worth $4.9 billion. The Penn Station Access Network Resiliency effort would give Metro-North an alternate means to enter midtown Manhattan if its four-track main line through the Bronx or the Harlem River Lift Bridge were ever disrupted for a prolonged period. An outage there would halt commuter rail travel in New York’s northern suburbs and southeastern Connecticut, with a devastating impact on the regional economy. It has a $516 million estimated cost, of which $387 million is eligible for federal funding.
The River-to-River Rail Resiliency effort would protect the East River Tunnels and Penn Station, used by the MTA Long Island Rail Road as well as Amtrak and NJ Transit. It has a $321 million estimated cost, of which $241 million is eligible for federal funding.
The plan also hardens infrastructure and improves network resiliency for all forms of transit in New York. Other projects would mitigate flood risk at New York City Transit subway yards and bus depots by hardening structures; seal entrances to subway tunnels and ventilation plants; make the World Trade Center site more resilient against water intrusion; and enhance Port Authority Bus Terminal operations to provide alternate service during rail outages.