One Look At New And Improved Underpass And It's Hard To Believe It Once Held 12 Million Gallons Of Salt Water

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City back in late October of 2012, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel was filled with salt water. Though both tubes were reopened about 10 days later, fixes went on for years.

And years.

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The Queens-Midtown Tunnel flooded during Superstorm Sandy back in late October of 2012. (credit: MTA Bridges and Tunnels / Mark Valentin)

But now, a little more than five and a half years after the massive storm decimated parts of the Tri-State Area, renovations to the tunnel are finally complete.

The Queens-Midtown Tunnel following the completion of Hurricane Sandy-related fixes on May 17, 2018. (Photo: CBS2)

CBS2’s Andrea Grymes spoke MTA Bridges & Tunnels deputy chief engineer Romolo DeSantis on Thursday and was given an update on all the work the agency completed.

Grymes: “After Sandy, this tunnel was flood.”

DeSantis: “The tunnel was flooded with 12 million gallons of contaminated salt water. We recovered within a week. We made some necessary repairs. We moved right away to the full restoration and also mitigation. We couldn’t just repair the tunnel. We had to rebuild it stronger, better and more resilient.”

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Grymes: “So basically from the ground up you had to rebuild the Midtown tunnel.”

DeSantis: “Absolutely. Every component, every life-safety system,  communications system was all damaged by the salt water. So, from top to bottom, complete renovation.”

DeSantis detailed the many fixes, including new fireproof ceiling, tiles, LED lights, traffic signals and improved evacuation signage.

Grymes: “The good news for drivers stuck in traffic is there is an end in sight”

“There is an end in sight, at the end of the tunnel as people would say,” DeSantis said. “We’d like to thank our customers and community board for being patient during this time while we completed this critical work.”

The Midtown Tunnel was originally built in 1940. As part of the latest work, crews installed 3.2 million new tiles, keeping with the original look.

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De Santis said the estimated four-year, $250 million project is nine months ahead of schedule and on budget.