Today’s news:

Cuomo asks federal government for $33B to fix damage by Sandy

The South Ferry subway station was damaged by seawater flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy Leonard Wiggins/MTA
TimesLedger Newspapers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have appealed to federal officials for tens of billions of dollars to repair the damage from Hurricane Sandy in the city and the state.

“New York has been there for other parts of the country when they needed help,” Cuomo said. “We’re asking for the same today.”

“People are still reeling from this trauma,” said the governor, who met Monday with the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The mayor issued his appeal to Washington last week and asked for about $9.8 billion to cover the city’s losses.

Cuomo is asking for $32.8 billion to reverse the destruction wrought by Sandy and $9 billion for construction to protect against further such storms.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) took it a step further.

“Our colleagues are aware that if they are not fair to New York and New Jersey and the Northeast, if disaster hits their area next time … that could boomerang on them,” Schumer said.

In any case, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will not pay for the enormous storm damage its operations incurred on the backs of straphangers, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said last week.

“The burden of Sandy will not be on riders,” Lhota told the monthly meeting of the MTA Board.

Lhota said the present plan for a fare hike in March would not rise even more because of Sandy. He added that he would “do everything I possibly can to prevent any service cuts.”

Asked if he thought the MTA could get enough money from Washington to recover costs estimated at about $5 billion from the storm damage, Lhota said, “I have an enormous amount of confidence in the federal government that we will receive a substantial amount of money to cover what is necessary to get us back to the condition of functionality we had the day before the storm.”

Lhota said he based his confidence on how the federal government has acted in cases of other such catastrophes nationwide.

Calling attention to the severity of the destruction, Lhota said the South Ferry terminal “was destroyed. It wasn’t hurt. It wasn’t wrecked. It was destroyed. From top to bottom.”

The MTA estimates restoring South Ferry alone could cost $600 million.

In other transit news:

• The R train, which now extends to Whitehall Street-South Ferry in lower Manhattan, “now is programmed to be completely restored by Christmas,” said MTA spokesman Charles Seaton.

• The New York Transit Museum and vendors who produce official MTA licensed products announced a limited collection of H line merchandise will be sold online dedicated to raising funds for the beleaguered Rockaway community.

The H line is the special subway shuttle established in late November to restore partial service on the Rockaway Peninsula between Far Rockaway and Beach 90th Street.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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