New York, NY - October 26, 2013 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx today provided an update on the critical recovery and resiliency work happening at the R Train’s Montague tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. They announced that the most up to date estimates for the final cost of project will be $262 million, and that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will pay for 90% percent of that, or $236 million, with funds from the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill. The balance will either be made up the MTA or will be paid for by other federal sources.
"Every dollar paid for by the feds is one less dollar that has to be borne by the MTA, putting less pressure on fares and on the agency's books," said Schumer. "The subway system is the lifeblood of New York City, and it makes sense that the feds would pick up the tab for such extensive repairs after such a major storm. This is exactly what we hoped money would go towards when we passed the hurricane sandy relief bill."
“Hurricane Sandy was the worst disaster in transit history, but even before it hit, we were working with New York to make sure it could recover as quickly as possible. One year later, we've made great progress, thanks in part to Senator Schumer's and the rest of the New York delegation's efforts to secure recovery funding, which we are putting to use at sites like the Montague Tunnel. We will continue working throughout the state to give New Yorkers roads, bridges and subways that are even stronger than before,” said Foxx.
"Superstorm Sandy had devastating consequences to the way we live our lives and to the way our local economy works -- particularly to our transportation infrastructure. I commend Secretary Foxx for coming to New York and for visiting the Montague Tunnel which was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The Secretary and the rest of the Department of Transportation are investing much needed time and resources into repairing this vital part of our community," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). "As we move forward in the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, I will continue to work with Secretary Foxx to repair our transportation infrastructure from the devastating impacts of that terrible disaster."
Hurricane Sandy dumped millions of gallons of brackish water into the tunnel, requiring a 14 month closure period for repairs. The repairs, including all new signals, tracks, and other equipment, will be bring the tunnel up to a better state of repair than before the storm. And importantly, vulnerable sections of the tunnel’s signal system will be lifted out of the flood zone so that a future flood will not damage the new communications infrastructure for the trains.
Schumer and Foxx noted that the source of the funding is particularly important. Almost 1/6 of the entire Sandy relief package – about $10.5 billion – was provided for a new fund called the Transit Emergency Relief program, which is where these funds are coming from. This program is newly designed specifically for transit agencies to recover costs and rebuild infrastructure stronger and quicker after a storm disaster.
In previous disasters, the MTA would only be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA and would fight for years to get federal funding to rebuild infrastructure. But now under the Transit Emergency Relief program, the MTA gets to work exclusively with the Federal Transit Administration and the FTA can give the MTA something called “pre-award contract authority," meaning the MTA is allowed to start eligible work to rebuild tunnels like this one without waiting years for a final reimbursement agreement from FEMA.