By David Cruz
New Jersey Transit trains and buses are mostly on schedule nowadays and officials say 97 percent of the system is back in service after flooding and wind damage from Sandy took a lot of it off line for weeks last year. Now, comes time to pay the bills.
“Our total request is in excess of $1.2 billion — $800 million for future resiliency to make facilities such as here at Hoboken stronger to withstand storms such as Sandy, and approximately $450 million in terms of damage for repairs for places such as Hoboken, such as Newark Penn Station and for along the North Jersey Coastline,” NJ Transit Spokesperson John Durso said.
Steady rain in Hoboken means flooding, and flooding in Hoboken means flooding at the Lackawanna Plaza.
Durso says the real damage from flooding is downstairs, under the tracks, where the salty, brackish water of the Hudson River wreaked havoc on electrical systems and track foundations. Transit officials say Sandy taught them important lessons about how to prepare for the next storm and better secure its assets.
“Two of the areas that have been identified as potential possibilities, one is county yard in New Brunswick to expand that yard to be able to house additional rail cars and locomotives, as well as at a facility in Linden,” Durso said. “Both of these facilities are off of the Northeast Corridor, they’re strategic locations to be able to house our trains.”
Sandy was a so-called 100-year storm, but Durso says no one is under the delusion that it’ll be another century before we see its likes again. The challenge is to harden defenses by building flood walls in some places and increasing pumping capacity in others. In the end, that’s going to take more money and if the state and the feds can’t or won’t come up with it, you can only imagine who will end up getting the bill.