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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | The Metropolitan Transportation Authority never had to cope with a storm of the magnitude of Superstorm Sandy before, and the M.T.A. never before returned a subway station to active use that it had decommissioned. But there’s always a first time.
On March 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the M.T.A. will reopen the old South Ferry subway station — the one with the short platform that will only allow passengers in the first five cars to exit. That’s the one with the sharp S curve, where the Number 1 subway trains turn around to go back uptown.
Both of these conditions were deemed so inconvenient that a new South Ferry station was built at a cost of $545 million. It opened in 2009. The old station, which had opened in 1905, was one of the first in New York City’s subway system.
On Oct. 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy flooded the new station with 15 million gallons of water, which filled it from the track level to the mezzanine. It will take at least two years to rebuild and cost an estimated $600 million.
The governor and others felt that was too long to wait. The South Ferry station linked the Number 1 subway train with the Staten Island ferry and was used by approximately 10,000 riders a day to go from one to the other.
The old South Ferry station was not flooded. However, in order to reopen it, a connection will have to be built between the new station mezzanine and the old station so that riders can transfer between the 1 train and the R train’s Whitehall station.
In addition, the moving platform edge extenders will have to be refurbished, replacing pistons and other components. Other work will include installing electrical feeds, closed-circuit television systems to monitor the platform, customer assistance intercoms, security cameras and radio communications in the dispatcher’s office. The fare control area will have to be rehabilitated, lighting will have to be restored in the station, in adjacent tunnels and on the platforms, and the station walls will have to be repaired and repainted.
By the first week in April, the M.T.A. expects that this work will be completed. It will cost an estimated $2 million.
The M.T.A. is expecting to get money to pay for the repairs from the Federal Transportation Administration, which has already disbursed $193.1 million for costs incurred by New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad during preparation for the storm. That funding also included millions of dollars to rebuild M.T.A.’s bridges and tunnels and various other facilities. That disbursement was the first round of funding from the F.T.A. to the M.T.A. to help recover from Sandy.
Thomas Prendergast, president of the M.T.A.’s New York City Transit, said last month at a City Council hearing that the new station could partially reopen in months, but he backed away from the prediction almost immediately. At the time, he was less optimistic about the current plan to reopen the old station.