New York tunneling projects weathered IreneAug 2011
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
New York City prepared for the worst, but in the end Hurricane Irene blew through leaving a big mess but little severe damage. Service resumed on much of the city's sprawling Subway system for the Monday morning commute after Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the system shut down at noon on Saturday in advance of the hurricane.
AquaDams, water-inflated barriers, prevented the underground system flooding at Penn Station Photos by MTA / Sam Zambuto and John Kettell
A few lines were still down Tuesday morning and several surface sections of the Port Jervis Line remain inaccessible and under water and will take months to repair. Localized flooring, downed trees, mudslides and washouts were reported along various at-grade sections of the 840-mile network and its 468 underground, surface and elevated stations.
Crews prepared at the No 7 Line extension site Photo by MTA / Joe Christen
Flood wall holding back as much as it can Photo by MTA / Leonard Wiggins
Grand Central Terminal closed and deserted Photo by MTA/ Aaron Donovan
All three of the city's major tunneling projects, the 2nd Avenue Subway, the No 7 Line extension and the East Side Access project, escaped unscathed. Last week crews scrambled to secure their job sites in anticipation of sustained winds and storm surges that could have led to serious and widespread flooding.
On the Manhattan Tunnels contract for the $7.2 billion East Side Access Project crews hastily filled an AquaDam with water to help prevent water from flowing into the Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) tunnels to Penn Station.
Work starts on the clean-up
Emergency response at work
A pedestrian walkway flooded out
Photos by MTA / Leonard Wiggins
The Emergency Hydraulic Department of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) used portable water pumps to remove floodwaters from the station tracks, including the 145th St and Lenox Ave station.
Portable pumps pump out flooded tracks on the Subway network Photos by MTA / Leonard Wiggins
Even as work was underway to suspend construction operations, and secure the sites, the city's transit system was pressed into service, evacuating some quarter of a million residents in low lying areas of the city, including 7,000 people in hospitals, nursing homes and senior citizen centers.
Buses lined up to help with mandatory evacuations Photos by MTA / Palmer Reale
But the dire predictions never materialized. According to Jeannie Kwon, Director of MTA Capital Construction Communications, "no damage was sustained across the board" at the construction sites. TunnelTalk has requests in to speak with project managers to ascertain the extent of the preparations in advance of the hurricane, and the storm's full impact on the projects.
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