Letter to the Editor: July 13
Two views on MTA flooding
There is still even more to the problem of subway flooding. Super Storm Sandy in 2012 resulted in extensive flooding damage to the NYC Transit subway system. In the aftermath, the Federal Transit Administration provided billions in discretionary funding under the Super Storm Sandy Recovery and Resiliency program to MTA. This supplemented over $1 billion in annual FTA formula funding that has grown to $1.5 billion today. NYC Transit should have learned from Super Storm Sandy which of the 471 subway stations and 36 subway lines were most vulnerable to flooding or located in flood zones. Remedial actions should have been completed years ago. Fast forward to 2021. After spending emergency funds on upgrading and adding additional sump pumps, securing thousands of subway entrances. elevator shafts and street level air vents, there are still too many subway stations and lines subject to flooding after major rain storms. Based upon last weeks storm. it appears NYC Transit still needs to do more. Consider adding new pump rooms. Improve coordination with NYC Department of Environmental Protection to insure there is adequate storm water and sewage system capacity adjacent to stations and tracks. Purchase additional mobile pumps and pump trains. Are there additional capital improvements in the current $51 billion Five Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Plan to deal with flooding? If not, why not program additional federal or local funds to deal with this periodic problem? What capital improvements are included in the pending MTA 2020 – 2040 Twenty Year Capital Plan to deal with this? Governor Cuomo and MTA Chairman Foye promised to release this document by December 2019. It is now nineteen months late. Subway riders should not have to deal with continued inconveniences every time there is a major rain storm.
– Larry Penner (transportation advocate, historian, and writer)
Update 7/14/21: A response to the first letter is published below.
The author states the MTA secured “thousands” of subway station entrances. With 1/3 to 1/2 of the system being above ground and not as badly affected by rain underground, I’m not quite following how that would translate into “thousands” of subway entrances.
While I agree with the author that the issue of flooding needs to be looked at, there have been four times the subway has been shut down due to flooding. in the past 22 years: 1999, 2007, 2012, and 2021. Whatever else one can say about the MTA, to me that’s pretty darn reliable. Also, I went out for a drive early in the morning during the most recent subway stopping storm. I ran a few errands and was hoping to get to the main Post Office in the Bronx but there was simply too much water on the roads. I don’t know about the author, but when the Governor and/or Mayor are advising me not to drive or ride the subway, I stay home and feel grateful that incidents like this are few and far between. I don’t use it as a reason to peck away on my laptop angrily and self-righteously, like the author. I don’t choose to go out and risk life and limb or at least the possibility of being stranded.
The author asks if there are additional funds in the MTA five year capital plan to deal with flooding. The answer is yes, at https://new.mta.info/
As far as coordinating with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the sewers, in case it has missed the author’s notice, storm drains all over the city are clogged with dirt and garbage. The storm drains need a good thorough cleaning before considering whether to “purchase additional mobile pumps and pump trains.” I’m not sure what the DEP has to do with pump trains, but I’m sure it’s somehow connected in the author’s thought process.
Doesn’t the author care enough about his opinion pieces to think, research, and read what he writes? Or is it that important to the author to fuel his insatiable desire to see his name in print?
— Nat Weiner
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