Montague Tunnel welcomed back with open arms

The R train’s Montague Tunnel – closed the summer of 2013 for extensive Superstorm Sandy-related repairs – will once again carry riders from the Court Street stop in Brooklyn, where the train had terminated during construction, through to Canal Street and into Manhattan.

“This tunnel is safer, stronger and more resilient than ever before,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo who joined the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Sunday, September 14 to mark the R line’s full return. “Everything on this section of the R train is new – new rails, new signals, new pumps and new power supplies.”

The tunnel was up and running for the first time in 13 months as of Sunday evening for the N line, and as of Monday morning for the R line.

“We’ve made it a top priority to reimagine our state to withstand the new reality of extreme weather, and today is another example of how that approach is making this a safer state for all,” said the governor of the $250 million project that was completed ahead of schedule – and under budget – during what the MTA called an “unprecedented” full shutdown of the Montague Tube subway tunnel under the East River.

An estimated 27 million gallons of water flooded a 4,000-foot stretch of the tunnel during the storm, corroding “every element of subway infrastructure from electronic signal equipment to tunnel lighting to the steel rails themselves.”

“New York’s transit network suffered more damage during Sandy than anyone at the MTA has ever seen in our lifetimes,” said MTA Chairperson and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “The effort required to rebuild the Montague Tube was nothing short of heroic.”

In addition, officials said, the repair project upped resiliency for the tunnel, including a circuit breaker room in the tunnel with heavy-duty waterproofing and a submarine-quality door, emergency lights with battery backups, new power and antenna cables with the ability to withstand water inundation, among others.

“I commend the hardworking residents of south Brooklyn who travel to Manhattan each day via public transportation for their patience throughout this ordeal,” said local Councilmember Vincent Gentile, lauding the MTA for their hard work and telling this paper that, “all things considered, southwest Brooklynites pulled together and did a great job dealing with this inconvenience, knowing that these repairs were absolutely necessary after Hurricane Sandy.”

Riders are just as joyful.

“I think it’s great, especially since they finished early,” said local resident and straphanger Jessica Guadioso. “I think it’s another huge leap that will help Brooklyn residents put Superstorm Sandy behind them.”

The Montague tunnel runs under the East River between Court Street in Brooklyn Heights and the Whitehall Street station near the southern tip of Manhattan, and reportedly serves tens of thousands of riders each day.

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