Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: The Damage
The Devastating Impact of Sandy
The high winds and heavy tidal surge generated by Hurricane Sandy effectively destroyed hundreds of feet of the line mainline connection to the Rockaway Peninsula, leaving 35,000-daily customers without a direct rail link to Howard Beach.
The Rockaway Flats rail line damaged by Hurricane Sandy carries over 30,000 riders per day between the Howard Beach Section of Queens and the Barrier Island known as the Rockaway’s. The damage starts south of Howard Beach station/North Channel bridge extending to the Hammels Wye station/ South channel bridge approximately 3.6 miles. The rail system consists of two tracks the entire distance with a third test track approximately two miles long. The tracks are built on a 70 foot wide fenced strip of land crossing the middle of Jamaica Bay. The tracks are bound on the Eastern edge by the bay, with a good distance of the western edge bound by a freshwater pond within the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
During the storm, a tidal surge covered this seventy foot wide strip of railroad track with over four feet of water. Fencing was destroyed; track washout occurred throughout, and at two locations the strip of land was breached connecting the fresh water pond with Jamaica Bay. The receding tide left over 40 boats, docks, logs, oil tanks, foam and thousands of tons of debris trapped on the tracks between the two fence lines. Track ballast, crushed rock, washed out from under and around the railroad ties for thousands of feet. Numerous areas had holes beneath the railroad track of three feet or more where all the ballast stone was displaced. Other areas were completely buried in this same stone.
The two fence lines protecting the rail line from the public were bent over, filled with debris and destroyed. The fence line on the east edge of the property landed on the signal messenger systems, the pole bent over with the weight of the water and debris. Signal cables were ripped off of the messenger wires and were strewn on the tracks. Several areas of damaged cable were noted. The entire signal system was underwater requiring replacement and rehabilitation.
MTA NYC Transit is coordinating closely with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the National Wildlife Refuge on how best to take remedial action to stabilize the structure and minimize further erosion and begin clean-up efforts. Both of these actions require significant work because the tidal surge not only undermined the track structure for long lengths, but also created totally new tidal estuaries between the two bays on either side of the structure.
Damage Assessment and Plans to Rebuild
The reconstruction will be a tremendous undertaking, requiring months of planning and labor, but please know that we are committed to rebuilding and resuming service as it operated before Sandy hit our shores.
Work Underway to Restore Service
We have already begun repairing mainline track, signals and electrical components as well as every station along the Rockaway Peninsula from Far Rockaway to Rockaway Park.
Our Pledge to You
Before Sandy's arrival, we safely evacuated customers, and secured equipment to weather the storm, and with the intention of bringing service back as soon as we were safely able to do so. Taking into account the breadth of our service area as a whole, we've been able to accomplish a lot. After Sandy, we worked to bring bus and subway service back as swiftly as possible. These efforts are continuing, and for the most part, we are running close to normal subway service. But we realize until we resume full service, your commute will be longer. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service.
You have our commitment—we will rebuild.
- Google Translate