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Sandy

New Tech City

Despite Problems After Sandy, Wireless Providers Resist Change

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Cell phones are as much a necessity as electricity or water in the digital era.  After Sandy knocked out service to more than one in four cell towers, how are wireless providers preparing for future storms?

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Transportation Nation

Subway Sea Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train And Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

Pile driver installs a section of steel wall between A train tracks in the foreground and Jamaica Bay behind. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York is Holland now: the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A subway line on its way to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The wall is made of thick steel and runs along the eastern side the tracks on the island of Broad Channel, in the middle of Jamaica Bay.

The $38 million project is the MTA's first big step since Sandy to prevent flooding from future storm surges.

To make sure the wall is strong enough to hold off another flood, workers are pounding each section about 30 feet into the ground. In the end, the wall will rise only seven feet above the rails, two feet above Sandy's height. The MTA thinks that's high enough.

On a recent windy afternoon, Contractor Mitch Levine was watching workers pile drive and weld each section into place. He said the wall is designed to withstand salt water. "This steel is special steel," he said. "It's marine steel, which will stop it from eroding over the course of 100 years."

Keeping the hungry waves at bay

NY MTA program manager Raymond Wong said the wall is supposed to prevent future storm surges from doing what Sandy did in this area, which was rip the embankment right out from under 400 feet of track.

"The tracks were hanging in the air," he said.

For three weeks after Sandy, each tide took another bite from a larger section of the embankment--until the NY MTA rebuilt the shore by dumping tons of stone and concrete next to the tracks. But this stretch of the A train across Jamaica Bay is still not in service. Thousands of riders now cram into crowded shuttle buses and face rush hour commutes that can end after midnight.

The wall will also serve a second purpose: keeping debris off the line. Forty-eight boats came to rest on the tracks after Sandy, along with jet skis, docks and fuel tanks. The clean up alone took three months.

Why a wall?

NY MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said engineers chose a steel wall to protect the A train because, "It could meet strength requirements as well as timing requirements--we wanted to make sure the wall would be in place by May 1." The line is scheduled to return to full service by summer.

Although Jamaica Bay is part of Gateway National Park, Ortiz said the wall didn't need to go through "any type of approval process" because it's within the right-of-way of the tracks, which is controlled by NYC Transit. Ortiz said the NY MTA did consult with the National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers about the plan.

At the Broad Channel station replacing signals and thousands of feet of cable and other components. (Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Kevin Ortiz)

Bringing the power back

The MTA is taking a much more short term approach to repairing the A train's damaged electrical system. A mile away from Broad Channel, a control house sits in the railyard at the end of the line in Rockaway Park. Inside, Wong showed off rooms stuffed with equipment that looked modern in the 1950s, when it was installed. One panel has thousands of fuses, each with its own hand-lettered tag. Sandy turned these rooms into temporary aquariums.

"Everything was just coated in salt water that undermined the copper," Wong said. "When we came here, this whole thing was a big block of rust."

Electricity is vital to the subway. It powers signals that keep the trains apart, and switches that move those trains down the right track. There's also lighting at stations, public address systems, and power to the third rail to move the trains--the list goes on.

So what is the MTA doing to protect the electrical equipment at low-lying sites from future storms? "We're just trying to get up and running over here," Wong said. "There's really not much you can do."

Wong said, ideally, the MTA will lift the control house 10 feet in the air, rip out the old components and computerize the system. But that's millions of dollars and years away. His goal right now is to get the A train back by summer, however he can.

Click here for more photos of restoration work on the A line.

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WNYC News

Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train and Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

WNYC

It's official: New York is Holland now. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A line on its way to the Rockaways.

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WNYC News

FEMA Flood Maps Engender Backlash

Monday, April 01, 2013

Advisory flood maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the past four months were supposed to help people figure out how to rebuild higher and stronger. But in some parts of the region, the maps have sparked a backlash because they will potentially require thousands of homes to buy flood insurance that did not need to before.

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New Jersey News

FEMA Warned Christie That No-Bid Contract Could Jeopardize Funds

Friday, March 29, 2013

WNYC

New information has emerged about a New Jersey contract with AshBritt, a politically-connected debris removal company.  

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Transportation Nation

LaHood Doles Out Another $1.42 Billion To Transit Hit By Sandy

Friday, March 29, 2013

(New York, NY - WNYC) The federal government is making available the balance of $2 billion promised to transit agencies hit hard by Sandy. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told transit managers, mostly in New York and New Jersey, that if they've got invoices for Sandy reconstruction and repairs, he's got $1.2 billion in reimbursements to dole out.

That's $545 million less than the amount available before cuts forced by sequestration.

Most of the funding will go to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs buses, trains and subways in and around the city; the PATH train, which connects northern New Jersey to Manhattan; New Jersey Transit, which runs trains and bus in that state; and the NYC Department of Transportation, which oversees roads and bridges.

Here's the full text of LaHood's announcement:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $1.42 Billion to Help Transit Agencies Recover From Hurricane Sandy

FTA meets deadline to get first $2 billion in aid to storm’s hardest-hit communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a third round of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) storm-related reimbursements through the FY 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. The majority of the $1.4 billion announced today goes to the four transit agencies that incurred the greatest expenses while preparing for and recovering from Hurricane Sandy—the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. (PATH), New Jersey Transit (NJT), and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT). The remainder will be allocated to other transit agencies that incurred eligible storm-related expenses but have not yet received funds.

“Shortly after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, President Obama and I promised that we would do everything in our power to bring relief to the hardest-hit communities, and that is exactly what we have done,” said Secretary LaHood. “In less than two months’ time, we met our commitment to provide $2 billion to more than a dozen transit agencies that suffered serious storm damage, and laid the groundwork to continue helping them rebuild stronger than before.”

A total of $10.9 billion was appropriated for the disaster relief effort, which is administered through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. (This amount was reduced by 5 percent, or $545 million, because of the mandatory sequestration budget cut that took effect on March 1.) Earlier this month, FTA allocated nearly $554 million of the first $2 billion in aid to reimburse certain transit providers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. With today’s allocation, FTA has now met the 60-day Congressional deadline to get the initial funds out the door in order to reimburse hard-hit transit agencies for expenses incurred while preparing for and recovering from the storm.

“Considering that over a third of America's transit riders use the systems most heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, it is imperative that we continue this rapid progress to restore these systems in the tri-state region,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.

The remainder of the $10.9 billion will be utilized for ongoing recovery efforts as well as to help agencies become more resilient in the face of future storms and disasters. The FTA has published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register this week for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program outlining general requirements that apply to all the funds allocated related to Sandy and future grants awarded under this program.

A summary of how the funds announced today are to be allocated is described below. A more detailed breakdown, and information on eligibility requirements, appears in the Federal Register:

$1.4 billion in disaster relief aid primarily to assist the transit agencies that incurred the greatest storm-related expenditures: the New York MTA, the PATH, New Jersey Transit (NJT), and the NYC DOT. These funds are made available on a pro-rated basis, based on damage and cost assessments FTA has made with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the transit agencies themselves.

A separate $21.9 million allocation to reimburse the NYC DOT as part of a consolidated request with other entities for various activities prior, during, and after the storm to protect the Staten Island Ferry, its equipment, and personnel, the East River Ferry service, and Governors Island, including the public island’s Battery Maritime Building ferry waiting room. Emergency measures included moving transit equipment to higher ground, operating ferry vessels at berths to prevent damage; debris removal; reestablishing public transportation service; protecting, preparing and securing Ferry Terminals at St. George and Whitehall, facilities and offices to address potential flooding; staffing and operating ferryboats at berths to prevent damage; and performing shelter-in-place operations for worker protection during the storm.

$422,895 to reimburse four additional transit agencies for expenses incurred preparing for and recovering from the storm. These are the Greater Bridgeport Transit District ($21,783); the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ($344,311); the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority ($1,179) and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which is receiving $55,622 just for CTTransit bus-related expenses, as FTA previously allocated $2.8 million to MTA for Metro-North rail service serving southwestern Connecticut.

A table listing total allocations for funding recipients to date and a summary of their reimbursable expenditures is available here.

 

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New Jersey News

New Jersey More Prone to Flooding Post Sandy

Friday, March 29, 2013

WNYC

Up and down the New Jersey coast, municipalities from Sea Bright to Ortley Beach are reporting increased incidences of flooding, even in places that don’t normally flood. But officials don’t agree on why it’s happening or how to stop it.

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WNYC News

Demolition Crews Finish the Job Sandy Started

Monday, March 25, 2013

In the months since Sandy flooded thousands of homes in Union Beach, NJ, construction crews are demolishing between four and eight damaged buildings a day, leaving only rubble.

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New Jersey News

Trails of Post Sandy Debris Surface with Spring

Sunday, March 24, 2013

WNYC

A lot of attention has been focused on the damage Sandy caused to beaches. But as spring blooms, officials are just now getting a sense of what a blow the storm was to millions of acres of public forest lands and hiking trails.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg Finalizes Plan to Buy Out Sandy-Damged Homes

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Bloomberg administration has finalized plans for the first tranche of federal Sandy aid, including a program that would let the city buy damaged properties from willing homeowners and resell them to others for more development.

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WNYC News

Statue of Liberty to Reopen by Independence Day

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Statue of Liberty, closed since Hurricane Sandy damaged the island where it stands, will reopen to the public by Independence Day, officials said Tuesday.

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WNYC News

AC Workers Feel Post Sandy Housing Crunch

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

WNYC

Atlantic City's casinos were mostly spared during Sandy, but the workers are struggling to find affordable housing there. A rental housing shortage extends far beyond the Jersey shore.

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WNYC News

A Critic’s Tour: New Parks Along the Waterfront

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sandy exposed the city's vulnerability to flooding, just as development along the water's edge has been booming. Waterfront parks are part of that growth and they could have a unique advantage helping the city deal with rising waters. James Russell, an architecture critic with Bloomberg News, took WNYC on a tour of these developing esplanades, which are transforming the city’s waterfront.

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WNYC News

Officals Testify No Specific Disaster Plans for Disabled

Monday, March 18, 2013

A federal trial is continuing in the case of disabled New Yorkers, who say the city needs a protocol for evacuating them during disasters, such as Sandy.

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WNYC News

After Sandy, Staten Islander Must Decide Whether To Stay Or Walk Away

Sunday, March 17, 2013

WNYC

After Sandy, Staten Islander Stephen Drimalas ended up renovating his home and, two weeks ago, moved back in. But after all that, Drimalas still isn't sure if he's going to stay.

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WNYC News

Half-Marathon is First Big Test Since Sandy

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fifteen thousand runners are set to hit the pavement Sunday for New York City's Half-Marathon. It's the first big race for the New York Road Runners after Sandy forced the organization to cancel the marathon in November

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New Jersey News

Sandy Charities Track Record a Mixed Bag

Friday, March 15, 2013

WNYC

The tracking of charities is spotty and there's no way to know exactly how much has been donated. But at least half of the donations surveyed has yet to reach storm victims.

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WNYC News

South Street Seaport Businesses Worried About Pier 17 Overhaul

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More than four months after Sandy, the cobblestone lanes of the South Street Seaport look like something out of The Walking Dead

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Transportation Nation

NJ Transit Wants $1.2 Billion in Fed Funds for Sandy Recovery, Future Storms

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hoboken Terminal, post-Sandy (photo by NJ Transit via flickr)

New Jersey Transit is putting together a more than $1.2 billion request for federal aid to help it recover from Sandy and prepare for future storms.

Earlier this week, the agency's post-Sandy project list was approved by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, a regional authority that has to sign off on federal funding requests. Of that $1.2 billion request, $450 million is direct cost from Sandy damage. (See photos of the damage here). The remainder would help the agency resist damage from future storms.

The largest chunk of money, $565 million, would go to resiliency funding devoted to upgrading its rail facilities and creating two new storage yards in Linden and New Brunswick. Agency spokesman John Durso Jr. said those yards would be built to withstand a storm at least as strong as Sandy.

The agency doesn't want a repeat of  last year's flooding at storage yards in the Meadowlands and Hoboken, which surprised the agency and damaged nearly a quarter of its rail fleet. According to the NJTPA document, those facilities "will require evacuation in future impending storms."

Speaking Wednesday at a NJ Transit board meeting, executive director James Weinstein said if the Linden yard clears a vetting process, the agency hopes to have it in place as the default safe haven in time for this year's hurricane season.

But that's not all NJ Transit has to do. Included in the project list:

  • $194 million to replace wooden catenary poles with steel ones along the Gladstone Line, constructing sea walls along the North Jersey Coast Line, elevate flood-prone substations, and raise signal bungalows
  • $150 million to upgrade the Meadowlands Maintenance Complex in Kearny, including building flood walls
  • $150 million for flood mitigation at its facilities in Hoboken and Secaucus and to provide crew quarters "to ensure the availability of crews post-storms"
  • $26.6 million to improve the resiliency of the Hudson-Bergen light rail and the Newark city subway.

"If you think about it," said Weinstein, "what Sandy has created (is) a billion dollar-plus capital program overnight, basically. And that billion dollar-plus capital program has to be evaluated, implemented, executed and completed, under some very strict guidelines that were enacted by Congress."

Should NJ Transit receive funding from the federal government, work would have to be completed within two years from the date of funding notification.

These are "hard core infrastructure projects," said Weinstein.

But he added that it may not be enough: "whether you can prevent boats from washing up on your bridge, I don't know of an engineering principle that would do that. But what we're trying to do is make sure that the structural integrity of this infrastructure doesn't get undermined in the future."

 

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WNYC News

Interest in Sandy Buyouts Intensifies

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to buy out properties damaged by Sandy is catching on. At least five communities on Staten Island have organized efforts to take advantage of the buy-outs and hundreds of homeowners have expressed interest.

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