Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
The old, short, narrow and curving South Ferry station at the end of the number 1 line in Lower Manhattan is being brought back to service, just four years after it was decommissioned, as hopes for the relatively speedy restoration of the storm-ravaged newer station have receded. Officials say the older station will be ready for service by the beginning of next month.
The newer station was built with $530 million in 9/11 World Trade Center reconstruction funds. Though the old station suffered no 9/11 damage, replacing it was a long-sought after goal of Staten Island politicians, whose constituents were squeezed onto the older platform as they transferred from the Staten Island Ferry.
But storm Sandy completely submerged the new station (startling video here) , destroying the new signalling system. The new station, which connects with the R line, was built far deeper than the old one.
NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials estimate it will cost $600 million to restore the new station, and have said the project can't be launched until the authority develops a plan to protect it from future storms. It has recently become clear that the new station won't be up and running for at least two years.
The old station is a different, and cheaper, story. Putting it back into service, including a rehab of the gap fillers that expand and contract to fill the space between the curved platform and subway train doors, costs just $2 million.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan says restoring the newer station is still on the boards. The authority expects to receive federal Sandy aid funds for that project.
At a city council hearing last month, Acting MTA Executive Director Tom Prendergast said it would be at least 24 months until the old station could be up and running. But he hinted then that the old station could be ready "in two, three months."