The last big piece of the mass transit jigsaw puzzle scrambled by Hurricane Sandy is about to slip back into place, as the A train is on track to return to the Rockaways Thursday. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
The A train will return to the Rockaways Thursday, but it won't be there for the morning rush, extending the wait of commuters who have gone the seven months since Sandy without their subway commute.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Wednesday that it will meet its May 30 target date of restoring subway service to and from the Rockaways, but not until noon. So there will be one last morning without the A.
"Of course, I was looking forward to riding the train tomorrow morning," said one commuter. "But the shuttle buses, you have to take a long time to get there, and a lot of people get late to work."
The MTA had to rebuild a 3.5-mile-long stretch of the A line on the peninsula after Hurricane Sandy destroyed its critical equipment and left 35,000 Rockaways riders without a direct rail link to Manhattan.
"I've been having a hard time getting back and forth to Manhattan, getting back and forth to Brooklyn," said one commuter. "It's crazy."
It's a long ways from October, when the storm left stretches of the line's track under several feet of water. Tracks had their embankment ripped out by Hurricane Sandy's surges, cutting the Rockaways off from its A train link to the rest of the city.
Now, to protect against future surges and flooding, New York City Transit has erected a two-mile seawall along Broad Channel.
On Wednesday, workers were also putting the finishing touches on repairs at the Broad Channel and Beach 116th Street stations as empty test trains continued to run along the tracks. Floodwaters from the storm had left both stations needing major work.
An MTA spokesman said service to and from the Rockaways won't be restored until noon because the agency needs to ensure it's all systems go along the A.
A train regulars said it will have been worth the wait.
"You have people struggling and scrambling to get around, so the return of the A train will be very much appreciated," said one.