The MTA says it is planning on reopening the A train connection between Rockaway and Howard Beach by the end of the summer.
Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge washed away part of the tracks over Jamaica Bay and in Broad Channel on Oct. 29, forcing service to be suspended between Howard Beach-JFK Airport and the Rockaways. That segment of the A line is one of only two parts of the subway system — along with the South Ferry station in Lower Manhattan — still unrestored after the storm, which flooded nearly every subway tunnel under the East River and for a few days caused the complete shutdown of the entire system.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the timeline for reopening the storm-ravaged line has not changed and service is likely to be restored “sometime in the summer,” but did not specifically identify a date.
During the storm, a tidal surge covered a 70-foot-wide strip of land between Jamaica Bay and East Pond — a freshwater pond in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge — covering the tracks in Broad Channel with over four feet of water.
Much of the track needs to be repaired and new signals need to be installed along the line. Fencing was destroyed; track washout occurred throughout, and at two locations the strip of land was breached, connecting East Pond with Jamaica Bay. The largest of the breaches was 270 feet wide. More than 3,000 cubic yards of concrete was used to fill in the breaches.
Cleaning up debris on the tracks took a number of weeks alone.
The receding tide left over 40 boats, docks, logs, oil tanks, foam and thousands of tons of other debris trapped on the tracks in Broad Channel.One oil tank washed up on the Brooklyn-bound track at the Broad Channel train station. The MTA said it even found a Coca-Cola bottle from 1902. Along some parts of the line, the tracks were completely ripped apart.
Holes of three feet or more were created beneath the railroad track where all the ballast stone was displaced. Other areas were completely buried. The two fence lines protecting the rail line from the public were bent over, filled with debris and destroyed.
The collapsed fence on the east side of the tracks damaged the signal system when it landed on the equipment. Signal cables were torn from the messenger wires and strewn on the tracks. Several areas of damaged cable were noted.The entire signal system was under four feet of salt water, requiring replacement and rehabilitation.
In the meantime, the MTA has run a shuttle service, called the H train, between Beach 90th Street and Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue and special bus shuttles to Howard Beach. There is currently no service between Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park and Beach 90th Street.
A similar situation occurred on the Port Jervis Line of Metro North in Rockland and Orange counties when floods washed out part of the tracks after Hurricane Irene. There, the tracks took three months to repair, but the MTA says the damage to the A line is far more extensive.