Brooklyn Heights

Montague tunnel repairs completed, R train resumes Monday

Gov. Cuomo tours reconstructed tunnel from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan

September 14, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gov. Cuomo tours the newly-repaired Montague R train tunnel. Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, federal and city officials and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials boarded a work train at the R and N line station on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights on Sunday to tour the rebuilt Montague Tube subway tunnel.

MTA employees there said the governor congratulated them on a job well done.

To the relief of straphangers, regular R line service will resume at 6 a.m. Monday, several weeks earlier than expected.

The governor rode the train to Whitehall Street in Manhattan, where he held a press conference.

“This tunnel is safer, stronger and more resilient than ever before, and everything on this section of the R train is new – new rails, new signals, new pumps and new power supplies,” Cuomo said in his prepared remarks, adding that preparing for the “new reality of extreme weather” was a state priority.

“New York’s transit network suffered more damage during Sandy than anyone at the MTA has ever seen in our lifetimes,” Thomas F. Prendergast, MTA chairman and CEO said.

“The effort required to rebuild the Montague Tube was nothing short of heroic,” he added.  “It took more than a year of round-the-clock reconstruction in difficult conditions, but we have restored the R train with a smoother and more reliable ride in a tunnel built to handle future climate risks.”

 The Montague Tube subway tunnel, which runs under the East River, was closed for more than a year beginning Aug. 3, 2013, after sustaining unprecedented damage during Superstorm Sandy.

The MTA estimates that 27 million gallons of salt water had poured into the 4,000-foot stretch of the tunnel during the historic storm. Afterwards, removal of the water was delayed because of the lack of electricity to the pumps located in lower Manhattan, and components within the tube continued to deteriorate over time.

Workers at the Montague Street station told the Brooklyn Eagle on Sunday that every bit of the tunnel — from miles of wiring to the tunnel’s shell — had been corroded.

Despite the challenges, the $250 million project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the governor said. Repairs had been expected to take 14 months.

In recent months, helmeted workers could be seen all night at the Montague Street station. During the bulk of the construction, there were upwards of 80 workers in the tubes at any one time, according to the MTA.

Crews replaced 11,000 feet of track, 30,000 feet of concrete and terracotta duct banks, 75,000 feet of power cable and 200,000 feet of communications cable. To combat the dust created by duct bank demolition, innovative misting and waterfall systems were developed, MTA said.

An MTA worker told the Eagle that only minor touches remain to be completed, and these could be scheduled at off hours without interfering with the line’s operation.

Prepared for future storms

MTA said on Sunday that their engineers built in new systems to limit the impact of future storms.

A signal relay room, which MTA called critical, was relocated from track level to a higher floor in the Whitehall St. station, and a circuit breaker room in the tunnel was sealed with heavy-duty waterproofing and “a submarine-quality door.”

Other improvements include emergency lights with battery backups, water-resistant power and antenna cables, and new pumping equipment.

Funds for the R train project were awarded by the Federal Transit Administration.

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