Federal Government Will Likely Cover Entire Cost, U.S. Senator Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Saturday that the reconstruction of the Montague Tunnel that sends the R Train under the East River is well under way, with federal funding in place to get the job done.

Since August, <a title=”R Train Service Restored Between Manhattan And Brooklyn” href=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/12/21/r-train-service-restored-between-manhattan-and-brooklyn/”the R Train has not been running between Court Street and Whitehall-South Ferry. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided to shut down the tunnel for 14 months so crews can repair signals, power cables and other equipment that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

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But repairs to the Montague Tunnel are progressing as planned, and the federal government is reimbursing the city for the cost, Schumer told WCBS 880.

“We announced that the federal government was reimbursing the city; the MTA for 90 percent of the costs – that’s about $236 million. It’s a huge job, because the tunnel was filled with 27,000 gallons of muddy, salty water which ruined the tracks, ruined the signals and ruined the tunnel,” Schumer said. “And so, the way we’ve constructed the Sandy money, the other 10 percent will be picked up by the federal government as well from another pot of money – that’s what I believe will happen.”

The tunnel not only needs new signals, tracks and other infrastructure, but also other barriers to prevent future flooding, Schumer said.

“It will be a much better, stronger tunnel than the old tunnel. It’ll be much more flood-proof – there’ll be barriers to entry so the water can’t come in; if, you know, a flood’s coming, they will block up the entrances,” he said. “And second, the signals, which are going to be modernized – and they’re quite old – will be built higher up so even if the water floods, they don’t get short-circuited by the saltwater.”

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On the one-year anniversary of \Superstorm Sandy this coming Tuesday, fares will be suspended for R Train riders between Bay Ridge-95th Street and Court Street in Brooklyn, as well as A Train riders between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula.

But Schumer said he wants to extend the fare suspension for a week.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Officials said once the work is complete, the tunnel will be in a better state than before the storm.

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