More than 13 months after Storm Sandy flooded South Ferry subway station with 14 million gallons of contaminated water, the MTA has come up with a plan to repair it. But straphangers shouldn't expect to use the station until late 2016 at the earliest.
The MTA will take expected steps to make the station more resilient: strengthen walls, plug leaks and double the number of pumps. But that won't solve the big problem: the room with the electrical relays that control the track signals sits at the lowest part of the station -- a station dug out landfill at the edge of New York harbor.
MTA engineer John O'Grady said that even when the station was newly opened, the 20 x 110 foot relay room "had a good bit of cracks that allowed for leakage. Sandy exacerbated the problem."
The only way to flood-proof the electrical system is to place it above ground within 500 feet of a key switch that allows trains to move from track to track. O'Grady says the solution is to build a new signal room on a platform over the sidewalk that runs along the western edge of Battery Park.
But the sidewalk is controlled by the city Parks Department. The MTA says negotiating an agreement with the city could take years. In the meantime, the authority will fortify the existing relay room with submarine doors and other containment measures. The MTA will also buy a spare set of components for the room, in case the water comes in again.
O'Grady outlined the plan during a committee meeting at MTA headquarters on Monday. He wouldn't put a price tag on the work but said, "It could be paid for with existing Sandy recovery funds."