Thursday, July 10, 2014

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MTA Executives Discuss Future Storm Prep Options

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Metropolitan Transportation Authority executives gathered Wednesday to talk about how the system can be better prepared for future storms. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.

Thomas Abdallah, NYC Transit's Chief Environmental Engineer, dreams of giant floodgates comparable to ones in London or the Netherlands. He hopes they will one day be built in New York City to help protect the transit system from future storms like Sandy.

"It could cost between 5 and 6 billion dollars," Abdallah said.

Unfortunately, that is way beyond the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's budget, but Sandy is a good example that more is needed.

The sand bags and plywood the agency used didn't stop the storm surge from flooding eight of its 14 subway tunnels, destroying the South Ferry station, and while the inflatable water dam the Long Island Rail Road division used worked during Hurricane Irene, James Ferrara of MTA Bridges and Tunnels said "the water dam at the West Side Yards failed this time."

Still, the MTA said it is considering inflatable plugs for subway entrances that could cost roughly $400,000 each. It's also looking at steel doors for subway stations.

Abdallah likes the idea of raised entrances, which is sure to face rider resistance.

"People will have to walk up six feet before they go down to the subway tunnel," he said. "You'll see ventilation gratings being either closed or raised four to six feet higher."

While the MTA said it is weighing these ideas and their price tags, it is likely to move forward with simpler solutions, such as converting some existing trains into pumping trains.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, is testifying in Washington Thursday about how the MTA needs $5 billion to repair damage from Sandy and possibly billions more to harden its systems against future storms.

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