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Queens Chronicle

Rail bridge to Rockaways could take six months to replace

‘A’ train back to Howard Beach; shuttle bus replaces Rockaway railroad bridge

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Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:36 am, Wed Nov 21, 2012.

Gov. Cuomo on Sunday said new shuttle bus service linking the Rockaway Peninsula with the A train’s Howard Beach station will remain in place until the heavily damaged North Channel rail bridge and subway infrastructure through Broad Channel is replaced.

The city and state are continuing to restore transportation to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, and are improvising where they cannot.

Efforts to bring some normalcy to the Rockaway Peninsula went into effect on Sunday, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority restored A train subway service to Howard Beach.

And with the Broad Channel bridge, over which the A train travels to Rockaway, seriously damaged along with hundreds of feet of track across Jamaica Bay, there is free shuttle bus service between Mott Street in Far Rockaway and the Howard Beach station.

“The people of the Rockaway Peninsula were especially hard-hit by this storm, and restoring transportation service to them and to Howard Beach is a priority for my administration,” Cuomo said in a statement issued by his office on Sunday.

“This combination of subway and bus service will provide them with immediate transit relief while the entire system is rebuilt.”

An MTA advisory states that replacement could take six months. “The scope of the destruction was stunning,” adding that aside from tremendous damage to the North Channel Bridge, which connects Howard Beach and Broad Channel, hundreds of feet of track were damaged or destroyed in other areas running through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

There is no working signal system, the rails are twisted and in some areas the supporting roadbed has been completely washed away.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota reiterated that the damage over Jamaica Bay is unprecedented.

“And so is the MTA’s response,” Lhota said. “Restoring the entire A train will take months, but the MTA is committed to doing it and providing alternatives to our customers in the meantime.”

Ferry service between the Rockaways and Manhattan, the result of a coordinated effort between the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Seastreak, began Monday.

The MTA this weekend also transported subway cars to the Rockaways via flatbed truck, with the aim of establishing some sort of rail service contained to the peninsula itself.

An MTA spokeswoman on Tuesday said there is not yet a startup date for such service.

In other transportation news, the eastern tube of the Hugh L. Carey-Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, opened Tuesday afternoon for cars only during rush hour. It will take cars to Manhattan from 6 to 10 a.m. and to Brooklyn from 3 to 7 p.m.

The saltwater that filled both tubes during the hurricane caused extensive damage to the electrical, lighting, communications, surveillance and ventilation systems in both tubes. Cuomo’s office said there is no timetable for reopening the western tube.

Lhota said the tunnel, the longest under-river vehicle tunnel in North America, also handed the MTA an unprecedented challenge.

“It was filled from floor to ceiling for more than a mile with water and debris,” Lhota said.

He called the fact that it is ready for limited operations a tribute to the skill and dedication of MTA Bridge and Tunnel Division employees.

The Long Island Rail Road returned to regular weekday service on most lines this past Monday as two flooded East River tunnels were reopened. The railroad was operating at about 70 percent of pre-Sandy capacity on Wednesday, when the Long Beach branch resumed limited service between Long Beach and Lynbrook.

Cuomo’s office quoted Amtrak officials as saying complete repairs to its tunnels might not be completed until the end of the year.

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1 comment:

  • Glendale Mike posted at 5:19 pm on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    Glendale Mike Posts: 0

    The MTA should take this unexpected time to convert one of the middle two platforms in the Howard Beach subway station into a platform.

    This third platform could be used to extend the Rockaway Shuttle beyond Broad Channel into the Howard Beach station. This would immensely improve the Rockaway Shuttle by connecting it directly to the Air Train. It would encourage the development of hotels for layovers from Kennedy in the Rockaways (Air Train + Shuttle), and we know the Rockaways needs all the economic development they can get after Sandy. This could be done concurrent to the repairs and without interfering with train traffic or schedules.