Those of us who have been waiting impatiently for the return of full R train service to Manhattan are going to have to wait a while longer.
Given extensive damage in the tunnel the train runs through between Brooklyn and Manhattan caused by flooding waters during Hurricane Sandy, “There’s no estimate,” said MTA Spokesperson Kevin Ortiz, of when it can be used again, but, he said, prior reports of several weeks seem accurate. And, until then, the train will run in two non-connected segments, between 95th Street and Jay Street in Brooklyn, and between 34th Street in Manhattan and 71st Avenue in Queens.
“The storm essentially flooded eight under-river subway tubes that link Manhattan with Brooklyn and Queens,” explained Ortiz. For the Montague tube, which is used by the R, 4,300 feet of tunnel was flooded, with water rising to the ceiling, he said.
“In lower Manhattan, the inrush of salt water caused severe damage to electric and mechanical equipment,” Ortiz went on. “There was severe damage to signals and switches.”
Indeed, Ortiz said, “It took us till early last week to pump the water out of the Montague tube. Once the tunnel was dry,” he added, workers could get in. They are currently, “In the process of assessing damage, cleaning debris and making repairs and replacement of critical parts.”
The wait is frustrating for riders. Todd Brogan, who normally takes the R from 77th Street to Rector Street, said the situation has added 15 minutes to half an hour to his commute.
Noting that, “compared to what a lot of other people have had to go through, it’s pretty minor,” Brogan said that the worst part of the commute was changing trains at Atlantic Avenue, where there’s a “big bottleneck with everyone getting off to take the 4 and the 5, so I’m not happy I’ve got to wait another few weeks.
“it’s the same old story with the R train,” Brogan added. “It seems to be the last train to get attention in southern Brooklyn.”
Nonetheless, regular R train rider Kevin Peter Carroll is willing to give the MTA some time to complete the work on the line.
“Traveling to the city is difficult,” he said, but added, “The MTA did a fantastic job after Sandy in terms of getting the subways up and running by the Thursday after the storm. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know they are working hard on it. However, if we don’t see a return to normalcy by the beginning of 2013, I think that’s when we start to need to ask questions.”