The federal government Friday approved $145 million in aid to fund Long Island Rail Road projects to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy and to protect the transit system against future storms.
The Federal Transit Administration grant for the LIRR is just a piece of the overall $886.3 million awarded to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which was paralyzed following the massive hurricane.
The $145.7 million allocated for the LIRR was second only to the amount approved for New York City Transit, which at $615.6 million represents the bulk of the grant money approved for the MTA.
The majority of the LIRR funding—$120 million—will pay for several projects at the Long Beach branch: to replace three of four substations, permanently restore signals, power and communications systems, and construction to replace the emergency generator, underwater cable and bridge electrical systems on the Wreck Lead Bridge.
The plan also calls for 10.2 million for projects at West Side Yard, $6.1 million at the First Avenue Substation and $6 million for infrastructure upgrades at the Hillside Support Facility, Shea Yard, the Far Rockaway branch and the Westbury station, officials said. An additional $3.4 million was allocated to electrify tracks 7 and 8 at the Long Island City Yard, which could allow for a more robust terminal if service through the East River Tunnels is knocked out.
“This grant is critical to the continued health and viability of the New York metropolitan region’s $1.4 trillion economy,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast acknowledged that many challenges still exist more than a year after Sandy. He called the funding “essential in helping” the MTA address issues brought on by the storm.
“At the same time that we are rebuilding an entire subway tunnel, we are fighting back against latent failures—unseen failures brought on by the storm that are waiting to happen—and reduced lifespan of components system wide,” he said.
The Oct. 29, 2012 superstorm ravaged the LIRR and it took a week before the railroad was able to resume near-normal service—about 70 percent of its regular rush hour service, and 83 percent overall service.
The railroad was littered with more than 200 downed trees and utility poles and the hurricane knocked out power to more than 20 electrical substations across the LIRR.