NJ Transit approves $17M more for Sandy recovery

NJ Transit approves extra $17 million for Sandy contractors; seeks nearly $1.3B from feds

Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Transit on Wednesday approved $17 million for contractors already involved in post-Superstorm Sandy repair work, a move that will allow work to continue while the agency awaits word on how much it will receive from the federal government for long-term flood prevention projects.

The agency's board approved the additional funding at its monthly board meeting.

The $17 million will go to engineering and consulting companies that have been involved in repairing hundreds of damaged rail cars and locomotives and the flooded Hoboken Terminal and Meadows Maintenance Complex yard in Kearny.

This week NJ Transit was approved by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to apply for $1.275 billion in grants from the federal government for flood prevention and mitigation projects. The authority is a federally authorized organization that must approve transportation improvement projects in northern New Jersey that seek federal funds.

Several engineering and consulting companies have been involved in projects that include repairing electrical wiring poles on the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex Line; work at the Hoboken Terminal and the Meadow Maintenance Complex, both of which sustained historic flooding in the late October storm, and repairing waterlogged rail cars and locomotives.

The federal money NJ Transit is seeking would continue that work and fund other projects. About $565 million would be used to safeguard NJ Transit's rolling stock and rail yards by building, buying or leasing temporary and permanent rail yard locations for use as emergency storage and inspection facilities and protecting existing yards system-wide against flooding.

The agency was criticized for not moving its cars and locomotives out of yards in Hoboken and Kearny before the superstorm, which was spawned when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems. More than 300 were damaged, and 200 are awaiting repair, according to information on NJ Transit's website.

Other proposed projects include $150 million for flood control at the Hoboken, Secaucus Junction and Bay Head stations and nearly $200 million for measures to protect electrical substations, build a sea wall and other structures to protect bridges damaged by Sandy and replace or safeguard electrical poles and signals.

NJ Transit executive director James Weinstein called them "hardcore infrastructure projects," some of which may have been contemplated previously but became necessities after Sandy.

"What we're trying to do is make sure the structural integrity of infrastructure doesn't get undermined," he said.

NJ Transit's assistant executive director of capital planning and programs, Steve Santoro, said the electrical substation that serves the Hoboken Terminal and that was only restored this week could cost $20 million to $25 million to rebuild to new flood-prevention specifications. He said smaller substations could cost $5 million to $10 million.

As much as $300 million of the estimated $450 million in damage system-wide to NJ Transit could eventually be covered by insurance, Weinstein said Wednesday.

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