By Bill Parry
Straphangers in Long Island City got their G train service restored Tuesday morning after a five-week shutdown.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority closed down the Greenpoint subway tube that runs under Newtown Creek and connects LIC with Brooklyn to perform critical work still needed after the tunnel was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012.
“Superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact on our subway network posed a challenge never before faced by our organization,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “However, we rose to this challenge and are rebuilding our system better and stronger than before.”
The full-phase closure of the tunnel began July 25 to allow crews to make the $84 million “Fix&Fortify” repairs to the damaged tubes that were flooded with more than 3 million gallons of saltwater. The Greenpoint tube was one of nine of the system’s 14 underwater tunnels that sustained extensive damage to tracks, signals, water pumps and other sensitive equipment that were completely submerged by the 15 feet of water.
Crews from every major division of the Department of Subways installed more than 14,000 feet of continuous welded track, installed 128,000 feet of cable and wire that had corroded from the inside after the exposure to saltwater and replaced integrated fiber optic cable.
“The timely restoration of G service and the infrastructure improvements completed during the shutdown are a testament to our team’s hard work,” Department of Subways Vice President Joe Leader said. “I thank each and every one of the hundreds of employees who worked so hard over the past five weeks to get the job done.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), MTA officials and elected leaders rode the first train out of Court Square thanking riders for their patience. “This is an exciting day because the G train is back and better than ever,” Maloney said. “The $84 million in repairs, which were entirely federally funded, have made the G train more resilient to any future extreme weather occurrences.”
The G train averages more than 100,000 riders during the work week, riders who had to rely on shuttle buses to get to and from work.
“I always say shuttle buses are a scary alternative for riders,” Straphangers Campaign spokesman Gene Russianoff said. “You always know where your subway is going, but with shuttle buses you’re never quite sure where you’re going to end up or whether you’re even on the right bus.”
Overall, the MTA has been allocated nearly $3.8 billion in funding from the Federal Transit Administration for repair, resiliency and disaster relief work.
Meanwhile, riders of the Q103 bus, which connects Long Island City with Astoria, is just one public hearing away from becoming permanent.
The agency introduced extended hours and weekend service on a trial basis this summer, taking riders past Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum, the Chocolate Factory theater and other cultural institutions as well as several waterfront parks along the East River.
The Q103 also provides transportation options for many who live far from the subway.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who lobbied for years for the extended service, said, “At long last permanent weekend service and extended hours for the Q103 are in sight. Though not yet final, the overwhelming support for this initiative from the community and local cultural institutions leaves me optimistic that the extended summer service will be made permanent when the MTA makes its decision.
“I look forward to joining western Queens residents, museums, parks and theaters in celebrating these permanent service upgrades soon.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.