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Sandy One Year Later: MTA Efforts To Protect Transit Soft Spots Still Years Away

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TWC News: Sandy One Year Later: MTA Efforts To Protect Transit Soft Spots Still Years Away
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A year after Sandy made a mess of the subways and caused some damage that has lasted even to today, the MTA says it's still working to find ways to protect the system. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

They're the soft spots in flood-prone areas. Those openings at subway stations in Manhattan's low-lying areas where storm waters could surge inside and swamp critical equipment.

Just look at what happened at South Ferry, a station that opened in 2009 but was knocked out of commission nearly a year ago by Sandy's salt waters.

"One of the things we're trying to do is figure out how do you keep water from getting into the system. I know we've talked to you in the past about. Just in Lower Manhattan, over 540 entry points that we're looking for ways, designing ways to keep the water out," said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco.

Nearly a year after the storm, the MTA is working with engineering firms to secure the stations. Possibilities include removable panels over station entrances, temporary floodwalls or inflatable dams.

"We're well down that path in terms of doing more work to define the issues, to assess the issues and then the actual design of things that we could use to fortify the system," Bianco said.

But a year after the storm, the changes still aren't in place.

MTA officials say they've learned a lot about how to protect the subway system from powerful storms in the future. But if one were to hit this year, the defenses at many subway stations wouldn't look too different from the ones we saw during Sandy and Irene.

Those proved to be no match at stations like South Ferry.

"You'd see sandbags and plywood at this point. But hopefully  in the not too distant future, you'll see other remediation measures," Bianco noted.

Richard Barone of the Regional Plan Association says new strategies are a must for protecting the subway but warns that preparing it for the next big storm could take decades.

"The system really is porous because it's so close to the surface, and because all the grates, all the ventilation is on the surface, it's really easy for water to get in," Barone explained.

Just how easy? Riders hope they won't have to find out again.

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