New York Subway System Faces Weeks to Recover From Storm (BusinessWeek)

October 31, 2012 – If you laid the New York City subway system in a line, it would stretch from New York to Detroit. Now imagine inspecting every inch of that track. That’s the job ahead for Metropolitan Transit Administration (A2 / 59259YTJ8) officials, who must examine 600 miles of track and the electrical systems with it before they can fully reopen the largest U.S. transit system, which took a direct hit by Hurricane Sandy. Seven subway tunnels under New York’s East River flooded, MTA officials said. Pumping them out could take days, and a 2011 state study said it could take three weeks after hurricane- driven flooding to get back to 90 percent of normal operations. That study forecast damages of $50 billion to $55 billion to transportation infrastructure including the subways. “No subway system is designed for a flood of this magnitude,” said Nasri Munfah, chairman of tunnel services at HNTB Corp., a Kansas City, Missouri-based infrastructure construction, design and consulting firm. “I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of a day or two. It’s a big job.” Chairman Joe Lhota of the MTA, which carries an average of 8.7 million riders on weekdays, called the storm the worst disaster in the subway’s 108-year history. Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey and swept north to New York City, was the largest tropical storm measured in the Atlantic.

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