The line that serves about 2,800 riders a day in Rockland and Orange counties was damaged when flooding from the storm washed away thousands of tons of ballast and earth that supported the tracks along one 14-mile stretch in particular, where the rails are badly twisted and suspended in mid-air.The agency had managed to restore rail service from Port Jervis to Harriman, where riders could then transfer to buses to Ramsey, earlier this month. NJ Transit and MTA needed a couple of weeks to get their act in gear in order to coordinate the bus and rail connections so that they didn't completely screw riders who should have been unaffected by the disruptions.
Buses are replacing trains in areas where tracks have yet to be repaired.
Track reconstruction is expected to be completed in December, but construction work to prevent future flooding will continue.
The railroad estimates costs at $50 million. It is hoping for federal funds and insurance proceeds.
Now, there's an end in sight to the disruptions. That's a good thing.
Even better is that the MTA will make necessary improvements to reduce the chances for future disruptions due to flooding of the Ramapo River. The damage was so severe that two miles of track were washed out; all that track needs to be replaced and rebuilt.
Phase I will include all work necessary to restore full train service on one track between Harriman and Suffern. Work will include:
Building access roads between the material staging areas and the right-of-way (work on this has already started);
Rebuilding the track bed sub grade;
Replacing ballast in the washout areas, compacting the track bed and surfacing the right-of-way;
Performing critical repair work on the undergrade bridges and the track slopes adjacent to the river.
The first phase of this work will be performed by both third party contractors and Metro-North Maintenance of Way forces. The work of these two groups will be fully coordinated.
Third-party contractors will work 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Their contract will be structured with financial incentives for completing work ahead of schedule, and with penalties for delays in completion.
The first phase of work is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. But it is important to note that this type of construction work is weather sensitive, particularly since the right-of-way is already significantly compromised.
At the end of this first phase, full train service will be restored with the following constraints:
Because we will be operating on only one track, there will be some variations in schedule times for off-peak and weekend trains compared to the pre-storm schedule.
To allow for the second phase of repairs, periodic off-peak and weekend train outages with bus substitutions will be required.