Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on July 20 that permanent repairs to damage that the Queens Midtown Tunnel suffered during Superstorm Sandy are finishing on time and on budget.
Cuomo held a press conference at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City along with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota to provide updates on the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, formerly known as the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
The governor called the work the MTA did during the superstorm “masterful” and recalled how they were able to make temporary repairs and reopen the Queens Midtown and Hugh L. Carey tunnels eight and 14 days after the storm, respectively.
Both Lhota and Cuomo recalled the flooding and damage in the tunnels as a result of Sandy and praised those involved in the restoration effort, including the MTA, the MTA Bridges and Tunnels team and the union construction companies.
According to a video presentation at the event, the restoration work to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Hugh L. Carey Tunnel cost a total of $588 million, $270 million of which went toward the Queens tunnel. Funding for the tunnel restorations was provided largely by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency.) The presentation also explained that restoration to the Queens Midtown Tunnel was completed in 37 months, 11 months ahead of schedule.
Improvements to the tunnels included complete reconstruction of tunnel interiors, new wall tiles, catwalks and pavements reconstruction of the tunnel crossing, new traffic controls and major fireline system upgrades.
In addition, the governor highlighted the cashless tolling systems that were implemented on seven MTA bridges and both of the tunnels, which have improved traffic flow, reduced congestion, decreased commute times and improved motorist safety since its inception in September 2017.
To date, the infrastructure improvements in Queens include LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy airports, which will be the newest airports built in America since Denver Airport in 1996, and the Van Wyck Expressway.
“When it comes to construction development, transportation development, it’s a very simple rule: you either move forward or you are left behind,” Cuomo said.
Not all was as rosy just outside the college, as CUNY students were chanting “Save CUNY now!” to protest the governor’s lack of action in signing the maintenance of effort bill. According to one of the protestors, Bryan Wigfall from The City College of New York, the bill would cover fringe benefits and collective bargaining contracts for 25 CUNY and SUNY institutions.
Wigfall added that the bill had passed both the Senate and Assembly, but the governor has still failed to sign the bill.
“We want him to sign it, we deserve quality services,” Wigfall said.