Port Authority Continues Rebuilding Efforts Following Superstorm Sandy

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today moved to continue the agency’s aggressive efforts to rebuild its facilities and to install additional storm preparedness measures by approving critical investments to safeguard the World Trade Center construction site, PATH rail system, and other facilities during the upcoming hurricane season that begins next month.

The Board’s approval of $59 million for enhanced storm mitigation and recovery measures is part of the ongoing efforts by the Port Authority to increase storm mitigation at all of its facilities, and to apply the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy.

The action will allow the agency to continue with its ongoing repair efforts necessitated by Superstorm Sandy, as well as implement improved measures to prevent damage from future storms, including the use of metal panels at PATH stations, temporary concrete barriers and water-filled Jersey barriers to protect doorways in buildings and the installation of permanent and mobile pumps.

At LaGuardia Airport, for example, a large generator will be installed at the pump house to ensure that water can be quickly pumped off the airfield. In addition, the agency continues to evaluate other long-term mitigation measures.

The funding builds on the February Board authorization of $210 million to cover Sandy recovery and clean-up across the agency. In addition to today’s Board authorization of $59 million for mitigation measures, there also has been $181 million in additional subsequent World Trade Center recovery authorizations. The cumulative authorization across the agency is $450 million in Sandy related actions.

Superstorm Sandy resulted in $2 billion in damages to Port Authority facilities, including at the agency’s seaports, tunnels, bridges and airports.

Much of the PATH system witnessed unprecedented flooding that decimated critical signal and switch systems. At the World Trade Center site, floodwaters destroyed much of the underground electrical and mechanical systems. The seaports suffered damaged electrical systems and cargo-handling equipment and Port Authority crews needed to pump thousands of gallons of water out of the Holland Tunnel before operations could resume.

“Today’s action by the Board allows the Port Authority to continue to repair the $2 billion in damage to its facilities inflicted by Superstorm Sandy,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. “In addition to these repairs, we will continue to make the investments necessary to enhance our storm preparedness in advance of the upcoming hurricane season as safeguarding the agency’s infrastructure and the travelling public that uses it remains our top priority.”

“Superstorm Sandy devastated this region and resulted in unprecedented damage to key Port Authority assets, including the PATH rail system,” said Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “Investing wisely today will enable us to better protect our facilities from the impact of future storms, keep our millions of customers moving, and help maintain the region’s economic vitality.”

In the aftermath of the storm, the agency sustained historic damage to all of its facilities, including 100 million gallons of water that flooded Delta’s Shuttle Ramps at LaGuardia Airport, the destruction of LaGuardia’s Instrument Landing System Pier and PATH’s Caisson 3 signal room, one of the key electrical control systems that helps run the mass transit system. That infrastructure has since been replaced.

The Port Authority also has completed a detailed damage assessment of its facilities with FEMA and the Federal Transit Administration, and has been meticulously repairing its infrastructure necessary for safe operations.

Of the more than $59 million that the Board approved today, $21 million will go to PATH for the installation of pumps, watertight doors, flood barriers and other crucial equipment to protect the system from future flooding and enable a more speedy recovery. The agency will implement these measures over the next six months with a focus on implementing immediate steps for the coming hurricane season.

Another $5.5 million approved by the Board is for enhanced protections at the WTC construction site in case of severe weather that could trigger flooding. Preventive measures will include water intrusion barriers and raising key electrical equipment to higher floors where practical. The recovery measures will include additional mechanical pumps and emergency generators on-site to speed up deployment.

The Board also approved $32 million to cover preventative measures at other Port Authority facilities, including the seaports, airports, tunnels and bridges.

Repair and recovery estimates from the storm are upwards of $2 billion dollars. After insurance, self-insurance, and federal funding, the Port Authority anticipates recovering the overwhelming majority of the cost with little financial impact on the agency. To date, the agency has been awarded $1.36 billion from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), including $870 million that the FTA announced just last week. The FTA money is for recovery as well as mitigation expenses.

Overall preparations by the Port Authority for future storms will include moving electrical and mechanical equipment to higher ground where practical, acquiring spare pumps and generators to help minimize flooding and restore services faster, and the use of water resistant materials to help prevent leaks. Additionally, flood protection barriers or perimeter walls will be installed where feasible to further help reduce the threat of water infiltration.

For more information please visit: http://www.panynj.gov

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