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‘A’ train to start running to Rockaways Thursday

Metropolitan Transportation Authority interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast says removing debris -- including a boat -- from track beds has held up restoration of A train service to the Rockaways. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

Rockaways residents who have endured months without the A subway line linking them to the rest of the city due to Hurricane Sandy’s wrath will soon have that vital service back up and running.

The MTA said A train service is being restored to the Rockaways May 30, slightly ahead of schedule.

“Life hasn’t been so easy for the residents in the Rockaways,” said Fernando Ferrer, acting chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “So we’ll be very happy to welcome them back on the A train on the 30th of this month.”

The MTA previously had projected service would be back in June.

Ferrer, along with MTA interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast, made the announcement at a news conference at the South Ferry subway station in Manhattan last Thursday.

Ferrer said the repairs have been made “in the speed of light.”

“Our system in the Rockaways, like life itself in that area, was devastated,” he said.

The A line extends from Howard Beach over Jamaica Bay into the Rockaways. Floodwaters from Sandy washed out 1,500 feet of track; destroyed miles of signal, power and communication wires; and completely flooded subway stations.

Prendergast said debris removal from the track beds alone, which included removal of a boat that washed onto the beds, took four weeks.

He also said the restoration of the line was held up because the MTA had to have some material replaced by original vendors and suppliers, who had to then manufacture the material.

“That’s why it took a long time to be able to get it to this point,” he said.

The MTA is also working to protect the system from future storm surges by putting a 2-mile flood wall constructed from corrugated marine steel sheet wall along the right-of-way.

Prendergast said such preventative measures are needed because extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy are occurring more frequently.

“You have to have new criteria to design a system to be able to withstand those events from happening, because they will happen,” he said.

He said the MTA is looking at new solutions and technologies that could be put into place in the future to flood-proof the system, but he added that the agency is also devising solutions to be put into place in the short-term.

“We don’t have to wait for space age solutions,” he said.

Solutions include putting barriers over potential water entryways to the subway, such as elevators, vents, hatches, manholes and stairways.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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