Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge brought record flooding to NJ Transit facilities in Kearny, Hoboken and the Meadowlands Maintenance Facility, damaging nearly a third of NJ Transit’s locomotives and a quarter of its rail passenger cars. But more than four months after the superstorm, full restoration seems to be in sight for NJ Transit. To talk about the latest developments, NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider spoke with NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein.
According to Weinstein, NJ Transit service is currently operating at 94 percent. He added that beginning March 24, NJ Transit will be at 97 percent. “Prior to Sandy, we were running 700 trains a day. Beginning the 24th of March, we’ll be 21 short of that 700, but we’ll be seriously meeting the needs of our customers throughout the system,” he said.
Sandy wreaked havoc on the Hoboken terminal, causing severe flooding at the Path station.
“The boiler was destroyed, there’s no public restrooms, we’ve brought in temporary facilities for folks. All of it has to be dried out, all of it has to be scrubbed,” explained Weinstein. “The Hudson River is not exactly pristine and we need to be concerned about public safety. And so we’re moving ahead quickly and expeditiously, but it’s still going to take time.”
But effective March 24, Weinstein said that electric service into Hoboken will be resumed for the first time since Sandy, now that a substation that was flooded has been restored.
“This will have a pretty significant impact and get us up to restoring 90 percent of our trains,” said Weinstein. “This will have special beneficial effects for the folks that take the M&E and come in from the western part of the state into Hoboken.”
When the recent nor’easter was forecasted, NJ Transit decided against moving trains out of yards that had experienced flooding during Sandy. Weinstein defended the decision, saying it was made in consultation with the National Weather Service reports. Additionally, Weinstein said the dynamics of the nor’easter were dramatically different from those of Sandy, the former being a rain event. “Sandy was a surge event and it’s that surge actually that created the flooding at the Meadowlands Maintenance Facility,” said Weinstein.
Next year, MetLife Stadium will be the site of the Super Bowl. To handle the crush of Super Bowl travelers to MetLife Stadium in February, NJ Transit wants to extend two platforms on the lower level the Secaucus Junction by 120 feet. The expansion is need not just for the Super Bowl, but other high capacity events like WrestleMania and Grand Prix events, said Weinstein.
“When we built the Secaucus Transfer and opened it up some ten years ago, the footings were already put in. So all we have to do is build the platform itself,” Weinstein said. “It’s a good investment and we’re going to be prepared and we’re really excited about hosting the Super Bowl.”