Date: Oct 16, 2013
Press Release Number: 105-2013
Intensive cleaning needed to keep system running and stop latent corrosion
Lingering latent salt residue left by Superstorm Sandy’s extensive flooding inside the PATH rail tunnels will be removed, with corroded cables, track and other equipment replaced, under a $50 million project authorization approved today by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners.
The Port Authority conducted extensive PATH restoration efforts in the months after the system suffered unprecedented damage in its tunnels last fall. Millions of gallons of salt water flooded the system for nearly a week before massive pumping efforts successfully cleared the tubes.
Restoration work included replacement of ruined cables, switches and the flushing of the tunnels, tracks and equipment. Despite the ongoing work, however, PATH has seen an uptick in Sandy-related maintenance and service issues this year, due to the corrosive effects of lingering salt residue left behind from the storm.
New efforts will include intensive power washing with solvents throughout the system, including the cast iron rings that comprise the original PATH tubes, along with replacement of damaged equipment.
Up to 90 percent of the costs are expected to be reimbursed from $1.3 billion in recovery funding already awarded to PATH by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Work will start in November on selected weekends and evenings, a timeframe designed to minimize the impact on travelers.
“Simply put, salt water does not mix well with metal, mechanical and electrical equipment and power cables,’’ said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. “PATH employees made Herculean efforts to get the system up and running after the storm, but the residual salt left behind is a major obstacle to overcome in returning PATH to full health and reliability following Sandy’s devastation.”
“PATH is a major mass-transit link between New York and New Jersey and the Port Authority is committed to keeping this vital system in a state-of-good-repair,’’ said Scott Rechler, the Port Authority’s vice chairman. “PATH personnel understand the public’s reliance on this system and are committed to minimizing service interruptions as they continue with post-Sandy repairs. The public’s safety and the long-term viability of the PATH lines are paramount as we work to return the system’s operations to pre-Sandy levels.”
In addition to removing the latent salt and neutralizing any residue, the work also will include repair or replacement of any compromised power and communication cables, running rail, third rail or trackside equipment.
Contractors will be chosen via a competitive, qualification-based process, with contracts meeting FTA guidelines to help ensure maximum federal reimbursement.
Superstorm Sandy caused roughly $2 billion in damages to Port Authority facilities, including at the agency’s airports, seaports and bridges and tunnels, in addition to the PATH rail system. Numerous repair initiatives and enhanced mitigation efforts to help minimize damage from future storms has been ongoing at Port Authority facilities since Sandy’s devastation.
Improved measures to help prevent damage from future storms include the use of metal panels at PATH stations, temporary concrete barriers and water-filled Jersey barriers to protect doorways in buildings and the installation of permanent and mobile pumps, as well as the addition of generators at various facilities to ensure storm waters can be quickly pumped away. The agency’s preparations also include moving electrical and mechanical equipment to higher ground where feasible, increased use of water resistant materials to help prevent leaks and installation of barriers or perimeter walls where practical to further reduce potential flooding.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit http://www.panynj.gov.