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Lhota, Christie In Washington To Talk Sandy Impact And Recovery

Water rushes into the Carey Tunnel (previously the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel), caused by Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Water rushes into the Carey Tunnel (previously the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel), caused by Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — MTA chairman Joseph Lhota and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie headed to Washington Thursday to talk to lawmakers about the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

Lhota testified with other regional transportation leaders before a Senate subcommittee about the impact the storm had on the area’s transportation system.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

The storm flooded subway stations and destroyed above-ground tracks on the subway and regional railroads, causing more than $5 billion in damage.

Lhota said nearly a half million of the agency’s customers have no service, reduced service or have to take alternate routes as a result of damage from the storm.

“We have not restored service to the full capacity, we’re nowhere near normal operations and that won’t be for quite some time,” Lhota said. “It’s important to remember that hundreds of millions of gallons of salt water completely inundated our system that’s over 100-years-old. We will be feeling the residual effect of this storm for months if not years to come.”

Among the biggest jobs is the total restoration of the relatively new South Ferry terminal, which is expected to cost $600 million.

“South Ferry was destroyed. It wasn’t hurt. It wasn’t wrecked. It was destroyed – from top to bottom,” Lhota said last month.

Transportation officials stressed that recovering from Sandy is a national issue.

“What happens in our port district and to our port district affects the entire nation,” said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “Our losses from Superstorm Sandy ripple through the entire country. We must never lose sight that recovering from Sandy is not a local issue, it’s a national matter.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is reuniting with President Barack Obama for the first time since the pair teamed up in response to Superstorm Sandy.

Christie made an unannounced visit Thursday to the White House, where he met with Obama to press for $83 billion in extra disaster aid for his state plus New York and Connecticut.

Obama is expected to ask Congress for about $50 billion in additional emergency aid for 11 states struck by the late October storm.

Christie made a similar pitch to a fellow Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, later at the Capitol.

The New Jersey governor might seek the presidency himself in 2016. His warm praise of Obama’s handling of the storm so close to last month’s election drew fire some fellow Republicans.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)