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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FTA allocates final Hurricane Sandy repair funds


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will allocate the final $834.6 million available in federal Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery funding for transportation repairs, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced yesterday.

The FTA is allowing communities the flexibility to direct repairs where needed. Agencies may use the funds on validated Sandy-related damage that meets FTA criteria, including repairs to Amtrak's East River tunnels used by MTA Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, FTA and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials said in a press release.

Agencies also will have the flexibility to use some of their previously directed resilience funds for recovery projects, they said.

"This final allocation of funding provides the governors of New York and New Jersey, through their respective transit agencies, the flexibility to put federal dollars to work where they are needed most to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy," said Foxx.

The allocation includes $432 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), $299.8 million for the PATH system operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and $102.8 million to the NJ Transit, according to a notice filed in the Federal Register.

FTA officials determined that the need for disaster recovery funding is likely to exceed the amount of FTA disaster recovery assistance available. As a result, the FTA ensured the states maximum flexibility to determine where the funds are best spent, and provided a voluntary option for MTA, NJ Transit and the PANYNJ to request that some Hurricane Sandy relief funds that were previously allocated for resilience improvements be reallocated toward recovery needs, they said.

The funds can be used for the East River tunnel project, which are in "desperate need of repairs" due to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in a prepared statement.

A recent U.S. Court decision to stall Amtrak's $550 million in Sandy-related insurance payouts put the repair work in limbo, Schumer said.

"The USDOT and Secretary Foxx have rightfully heeded the call and will inject $432 million into the MTA for critical projects like the Long Island Railroad Tunnel project — and this comes not a moment too soon,” Schumer said. "Right now, unfortunately, these tunnels are the weakest link in the commute of so many Long Islanders but with these funds on track, the tunnel tubes can be brought up to a good state of repair and reduce the frequency of maddening delays."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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