The return of G train service between Brooklyn and Queens is just over two weeks away, and in an NY1 exclusive, transit reporter Jose Martinez takes an inside look at how the Greenpoint Tube, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, is being strengthened for future storms.
With no G trains running between Brooklyn and Queens, riders have have had to settle for shuttle buses, but those won't be around much longer. Neither will the work trains rolling through the Greenpoint Tube, where NY1 got an inside look at round-the-clock work that's been going on since late last month as crews finish replacing vital equipment destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
"Through the balance of '12 and early '13, we were in Band-Aid mode, but then, we flipped over and have been working since then on kind of permanent fixes," said Jules Flynn, chief recovery and resiliency officer for MTA New York City Transit.
The tube took on more than 3 million gallons of saltwater during the storm, leading to 12 weekend shutdowns at several stations along the line last year.
"That water stored for several days, and in doing so, damaged basically all the mechanical and electromechanical systems in the tube," Flynn said. "So we've really had to rehabilitate from the ground up."
While that's led to big commuting headaches for the line's 125,000 weekday riders, the next time they roll from Brooklyn to Queens, they'll be going through a tunnel where essentially every inch has been rebuilt.
With new signals and lighting, more than 100,000 feet of water-resistant cable, a rebuilt fan system and new continuously welded rail that the MTA says offers a smoother ride.
"It will be much quieter, much safer because there's new rails, new plates," said Melvin Green of MTA New York City Transit. "The old ones tend to maybe break because of the water damage, the corrosion because of the storm. It's going to improve it a great deal."
The Greenpoint tube was among the hardest hit of the MTA's nine underwater tunnels damaged by the storm.
Unlike the R train tube linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, it didn't require a full-time shutdown of more than a year, but sticking to weekends wasn't going to cut it, either.
"If we had stretched out over weekends, we would have been working for a long time and inconveniencing our customers for more occasions," Flynn said.
Instead, they can now look forward to the big occasion of full G train service coming back right after Labor Day.