November 10th - November 16th, 2012
Two Manholes Erupt in TriBeCa, Leaving Building Without Power
November 10 - Two manholes exploded just before noon on Saturday in Lower Manhattan after a transformer caught fire, officials said. According to DNAinfo, the FDNY responded to a call reporting an explosion at 11:13 a.m., a fire spokesman said, and firefighters rushed to the scene of two exploding manholes at Greenwich and Reade streets. The eruption was caused by a transformer fire, the FDNY said, but it was unclear if the problem may have been caused as aftermath of hurried repairs made after Hurricane Sandy, according to Con Ed. As a precaution, Con Ed shut down power to 145 Reade Street — a residential building, according to public records. Another site, a New York Sports Club at 151 Reade Street, was evacuated following the incident, but it was unclear if the gym reopened shortly thereafter — the phone at the location had an ongoing busy signal. Alan Troncillito, who owns Troncillito Farms and was manning a stand as part of a regular greenmarket at the corner, said there was little warning. He said it started smoking before there was a small explosion, then a half an hour later, he heard a bigger explosion. Neither agency had more information immediately available as of 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
Protecting 9/11 Artifacts From Floods
November 11 - After superstorm Sandy inundated the 9/11 Museum and nearly submerged some of the massive artifacts in an under-construction exhibition space, officials are developing a plan to protect its most fragile and emotionally evocative items—photographs, missing-person posters, wallets, prayer cards and other keepsakes from victims. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Oct. 29 storm flooded the underground museum with more than 7 feet of water, causing small amounts of damage to large artifacts such as fire trucks, an ambulance and World Trade Center steel, including the Last Column, which bears inscriptions from first responders, recovery workers and family members. Smaller, more delicate items were safe in off-site storage, but museum officials said the flood made them step back and take stock of their safety should another storm strike. These objects, which carry deep personal meaning for the family members who donated them, would be located below street level in one of the most flood-prone areas of the city, said Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Flooding from Sandy has led 9/11 Museum officials to reevaluate their plans. Pictured here, the exhibition space, where artifacts such as fire trucks wrapped in shrink-wrap were stored, shortly after the storm surge hit. The museum has begun examining how floodwaters entered the exhibit space, and whether flooding can be prevented next time a dangerous storm hits. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the World Trade Center site and is in charge of the museum's construction, also is looking at how to prevent flooding in the future. One open question is whether the storm will further push back the museum's opening date. Officials who once hoped to launch the museum last September had to push the date back to late 2013 or early 2014 because of disputes between the mayor and the governors of New York and New Jersey over construction costs and control of the site. The storm did cause construction setbacks—some sheet rock will have to be torn out and replaced, and construction lifts were damaged. But the overall impact isn't clear.
Parts of PATH Service Knocked Out for Weeks
November 11 – The Wall Street Journal reports that PATH train service won’t be fully restored for Hoboken or Lower Manhattan for several weeks, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials said Sunday. The estimate was the first timetable Port Authority officials have given for full restoration of the PATH in the two weeks since superstorm Sandy caused widespread flooding and significant damage in tunnels and multiple stations, the agency said. PATH service was restored last week between Jersey City and Midtown Manhattan, and officials said Sunday that service would come back to Newark and Harrison, N.J., on Monday. But PATH service between Hoboken and Manhattan and from the World Trade Center to New Jersey is still several weeks away from restarting, officials said. Officials announced a new ferry service from the Hoboken Ferry Terminal to Pier 79 at West 39th Street in Manhattan. The ferry is set to begin Monday and will run from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. In other transportation-related announcements on Sunday, the Gov. Hugh L. Carey Tunnel will be open on Monday for rush-hour bus service, the first time the tube will be used by auto traffic since it was flooded during Sandy, state officials said. The Long Island Rail Road will begin operating on a weekday schedule Monday on 10 of its 11 branches, as two East River tunnels flooded during Sandy have reopened, officials said.
Lower Manhattan Buildings Offer Rent Relief For Tenants Displaced by Sandy
November 13 - Damaged residential buildings in the Financial District that remain closed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy have begun offering rent aid to displaced residents still awaiting word on when they can return home. DNAinfo reports that at some shuttered buildings downtown — where damage is so severe there's no clear timeline for when they'll be habitable again — landlords are offering rent abatement to tenants while they wait it out. In other homes where flood damage to utility equipment could take months to repair, landlords are even letting residents out of their leases. At 2 Gold Street, a luxury apartment complex made up of two high-rise buildings at the corner of Gold Street and Maiden Lane, management representatives estimate it could take at least two months to repair the buildings' destroyed mechanical systems. In the meantime, TF Cornerstone, Inc., the company that owns the properties, has waived rents and said tenants are free to break their leases if they decide to move elsewhere, according to a spokeswoman. After the storm hit, the company immediately pulled its open listings in other neighborhoods from the market in order to offer them to displaced tenants from 2 Gold, placing about 55 to 60 resident before they ran out of available units, the spokeswoman said. Now TF Cornerstone is working with competitors to find the remaining tenants a place to stay.
Battery Park Underpass Partially Reopens
November 13 – ABC News reports that New York City is reopening of the Battery Park Underpass, which was flooded during the recent storm, to westbound bus traffic only during afternoon rush hour. Eastbound traffic will reopen fully on Wednesday. The westbound lanes will be open from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. The underpass will open--one lane--on Wednesday morning, November 14, at 6 a.m. to eastbound vehicles and remain open 24 hours in that direction, with the westbound direction reopening each day to buses only from 3-7 p.m. each day for the afternoon rush hour. The underpass runs underneath Battery Park, carries traffic in two lanes in each direction, and joins the east and west sides of Manhattan by connecting the West Side Highway to the South Street Viaduct/FDR. Approximately 230 buses use the underpass to get from the Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the FDR in peak directions during both daily rush hours.
Brooklyn Tunnel Reopens to Cars
November 14 – The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan partially reopened to car traffic Tuesday afternoon, more than two weeks after it was flooded by superstorm Sandy, reports The Wall Street Journal. The tunnel, formerly known as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, carries 49,500 passenger vehicles in its two tubes on an average weekday. The restoration is limited to a single direction at rush hour: cars will be permitted to use one lane of the tunnel’s eastern tube, with the other reserved for, express buses. The western tube remains shuttered for what Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office called extensive repairs. The Carey Tunnel is the longest continuous underwater tunnel in the U.S., making it particularly difficult to clear. As Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, storm surges rushed from the Hudson River into the mouth of the tunnel and filled its two tubes with what officials estimated was 86 million gallons of water. Mr. Cuomo announced the reopening alongside U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota, whose agency manages the tunnel. The same day, Mr. LaHood brought more good news to the city: $28 million in federal funding for a new Select Bus Service corridor on Nostrand and Rogers avenues in Brooklyn. The federal aid, in addition to $12 million in matching funds from the city and state, will launch the first bus rapid transit corridor entirely within Brooklyn. Plans for the route--a joint effort of the MTA and New York City Department of Transportation—call for dedicated bus lanes and limited-stop, low-floor buses running from the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge down to Sheepshead Bay. The MTA also announced it would resume partial weekday service on the Long Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road, which had been knocked out since the storm. Across the Hudson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that some service would resume on NJ Transit’s Montclair-Boonton commuter rail line, with hourly trains to New York’s Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal during the morning and evening rush hours on Wednesday.
Quinn Calls for Sea Wall to Shield City
November 14 – New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the front-runner in the 2013 race for mayor, outlined Tuesday a series of flood-prevention measures—including the possibility of building a storm surge barrier—that could cost upwards of $20 billion reports the Wall Street Journal. Speaking before a civic group two weeks after superstorm Sandy devastated the region, Ms. Quinn described flood protection as the single most important infrastructure challenge of our time. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration agreed at the council’s request, Ms. Quinn said, to accelerate two studies to identify risks faced by different sections of the city and develop the best strategies for protecting those areas. Ms. Quinn pointed to the steel gates that protect London from the powerful tides on the River Thames and the barriers that helped protect Stamford, CT from the wrath of Sandy last month. For years, Ms. Quinn said, there have been discussions, largely in academic circles, about whether these types of barriers would work in New York City. Ms. Quinn’s comments are a departure from one of her biggest supporters, Mr. Bloomberg, who has raised questions about the cost and effectiveness of storm-surge barriers. As the race to succeed Mr. Bloomberg gets under way, his administration’s response to the storm and proposals surrounding protecting the city from future storms will, no doubt, be a major issue on the campaign trail. On Monday, mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson, a former city comptroller, lambasted the Bloomberg administration’s response to the storm, saying thousands of people in public-housing developments that still don’t have power are being ignored. Ms. Quinn is the first of the candidates eyeing the mayoralty to deliver a major policy speech on the issue, speaking Tuesday morning before the Association for a Better New York. In the audience were some members of the mayor’s administration and Joseph Lhota, the head of the MTA, who Ms. Quinn lauded for his efforts to restore transit service quickly.
R train between Manhattan and Brooklyn still several weeks away: officials
November 15 - The R train won’t be running between Brooklyn and Manhattan for several weeks, officials said Wednesday. According to The Daily News, the line’s Montague St. Tunnel, which connects Brooklyn Heights and lower Manhattan, saw more flooding than any of the eight subway tubes that were inundated by superstorm Sandy, one official estimated. Water from an unprecedented sea surge cascaded down a tunnel ventilation shaft at the southern tip of Manhattan, and it rushed down the stairs of the Whitehall St./South Ferry station, officials said. The volume of water in the tunnel was so great it extended up a steep incline into Brooklyn Heights - about four blocks from the riverbank. It stopped about 500 feet from Court St. station, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast said it would probably take at least two or three weeks to repair and replace signals, signal relays and other equipment. All seven East River subway tunnels, and the G train, were flooded, but the MTA used three diesel pump trains and portable pumps to remove the brackish water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also helped. The suffering residents of the Rockaways, meanwhile, will be without a one-seat ride into Manhattan for months because the bridge over Jamaica Bay was decimated, Prendergast said. For now, the Authority is running shuttle buses to the Howard Beach subway station. In the next week or so, the authority hopes to resume shuttle train service along the peninsula, officials said.