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MTA Gets High Praise From Council At Sandy Response Hearing

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TWC News: MTA Gets High Praise From Council At Sandy Response Hearing
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The City Council on Tuesday held another oversight hearing on the response to Hurricane Sandy, this time focusing on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's performance. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

The South Ferry subway station cost more than $500 million and opened less than four years ago, but floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy destroyed it, rising all the way to the mezzanine level and wiping out critical equipment.

Transit officials have said that rebuilding could take up to three years, so they're weighing alternatives.

"That’s too long to wait," said Thomas Prendergast, president of New York City Transit. "So one option is taking a look at, could we re-commission the old South Ferry station? The other option is, could we open up the new South Ferry stations in stages, such that it could be restored to service before all the work is done?"

The old station was so antiquated that you could only exit from the first five cars, and platform extenders were needed. There is no word on how soon the station could be reopened.

Meanwhile, out in the Rockaways, where Hurricane Sandy effectively washed away the tracks connecting the A train to the peninsula, MTA officials told the City Council Tuesday that they expect normal service restored by June.

Unlike many City Council hearings where agency heads are called to testify, Tuesday’s hearing was not at all combative, with council members instead going out of their way to praise the MTA for its storm response.

"You were a breath of fresh air during the storm," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.

"When you deserve stones thrown at you, we will throw them, but when you deserve praise, it should be heaped on as well," said Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio.

Officials estimate that the storm will cost the MTA $4.8 billion in recovery work, plus $4.1 billion in protective measures like floodgates at tunnel entrances, though even those can have unintended consequences.

"We need to be conscious in the decision making that we take, with respect to, where does that water go?" Prendergast said. "Because if it goes to another portion of the system that is harder to pump out, we actually may be defeating our own purpose."

Officials hope that most, if not all, of their costs will be covered by insurance and federal aid.

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