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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT provides nearly $3.6 billion to storm-proof East Coast transit systems

Forty projects have been chosen to receive a share of $3.59 billion in federal disaster relief funds to help public transportation systems in areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy become more resilient against future natural disasters, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced yesterday.

About 90 percent of the federal dollars will go toward projects in New York and New Jersey, where transit systems sustained the worst damage from the storm that struck the East Coast in October 2012. The remaining funds will go toward projects in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, U.S. Department of Transportation officials said in a press release.

"We've made great progress rebuilding critical transit connections since Hurricane Sandy, and we want to make sure no one pays for these repairs twice," said Foxx, who was joined by other federal and local officials during an event held in New York City.

Resilience projects receiving funds include $1.6 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City to make flood protections at multiple street-level openings throughout the subway system, rail yards, substations, critical support facilities and underground equipment; tunnel portals used by Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak; and Rockaway Line stations. MTA also will upgrade an emergency management communication system, flood-proof communications and signal rooms at key subway stations, upgrade water pumping capacity and flood-proof four bus depots.

Last week, New Jersey officials announced that New Jersey Transit would receive $1.3 billion in federal resiliency project funding, which will be used to reduce the risk of flocking to Hoboken rail yard and the city by filling a deteriorated inlet inside the rail yard; construct a rail storage and re-inspection facility located outside the floodplain that could be used to safely store vehicles in an emergency; and replace the aged and deteriorated Raritan River Drawbridge damaged by Hurricane Sandy with a new bridge that is less vulnerable to storm surge and flooding.

Also, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive approximately $86.7 million to build an alternate system control center to ensure continuity of operations in case a major storm knocks out the system’s central control facility; stabilize the slopes of several commuter railroad embankments to reduce the risk of rockfall or landslides after severe rainfall; and improve flood protection to protect commuter-rail lines.

In addition, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will receive approximately $35 million to raise a retaining wall and install watertight barriers at the Green Line Fenway Portal to reduce flooding, and repair and improve a deteriorated seawall.

The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 provided $10.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration's Emergency Relief Program for recovery, relief and resiliency efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. That total was subsequently cut by almost $545 million due to sequestration. FTA is allocating the remaining $10.4 billion in multiple tiers for response, recovery and rebuilding, locally prioritized resiliency projects, and competitively selected resiliency work. To date, FTA has allocated nearly $9.3 billion of the total funds appropriated—roughly $5.7 billion for initial and ongoing recovery work, and $3.6 billion for the larger resilience projects just announced.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/23/2014