By Erin Delmore
“We’re here to mark another milestone in New Jersey’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
New Jersey lawmakers fought for the $60 billion Sandy Relief Bill, including more than $10 billion for the new Transit Emergency Relief Program. Today they celebrated the fourth and final installment of that funding: over $400 million.
“So today is an extraordinary celebration of the tenacity and the grit of people after a storm in Washington who are bringing billions of dollars back to our state,” said Sen. Cory Booker.
Menendez pointed out more than a third of all transit trips taken nationwide happen in this region. Sandy destroyed transit facilities, infrastructure and equipment, not to mention, latent damage from salt water. A portion of the latest relief funds will be used to replace miles of power cable and signal cable damaged during Sandy.
“I think a lot of times because we focus so much on the individual property owners or businesses, we forget how much of this funding has been used for upgrading infrastructure, repairs, what I would call resiliency,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.
One of the things New Jersey Transit plans to do is elevate train platforms at vulnerable stations to protect against future storms.
“We’re also building a new rail yard just outside of New Brunswick that will be highly resilient when major storms strike. Another major resilience project has already begun with engineering investigations to replace the massive rail drawbridge over the Raritan River. Many of our electrical assets such as substations and power cables were severely impacted by Sandy. We are replacing them with resilient designs,” said NJ Transit Assistant Executive Director of Capital Planning and Programs Steven Santoro.
Including an electrical microgrid to supply power during storms or when the central power grid goes down. The Port Authority is using the new funding to replace track, lifts and station platforms at the Hoboken, Harrison and Exchange Place stops.
“PATH will be undertaking a huge rebuilding program beginning Aug. 5 and that will continue through the next five years and that will include new design, resiliency and replacement of infrastructure that had been damaged not only by the storm, but as Steve said, by salt intrusion that we’re seeing again today, for things that we can’t see underground,” said PATH Director of Rail Transit Michael Marino.
The lawmakers and transportation officials said their focus isn’t on bringing the system back to where it was. The plan is to upgrade so we’re prepared for the next storm.