Gallery: UPDATE: NYC to Shut Down All Mass Transit at Noon on Saturday ...

As Hurricane Irene heads towards us, New York City will shut down the entire mass transit system beginning at noon on Saturday. This includes bus, subway, and railroad service. The shutdown will most likely continue through Monday. The complete shut down was proposed on Thursday, and Governor Cuomo gave it the go ahead Friday afternoon. It may seem extreme, but with the subway’s history of flooding and our city’s ancient combine sewer system, this may be the only way to keep our public transportation system in working order.

The New York City subway water drainage system is often criticized for being outdated and over-worked. There are 700 water pumps responsible for pulling 13 million gallons of water out of the subways on a sunny day. Some of the pumps are over 100 years old — and purchased secondhand from the Panama canal!

Back in the 1990s, a broken water main flooded the 125th street station so badly, scuba divers were sent down to fix it and a diesel-powered train car was used to carry the water out. It took an entire week to drain the whole station. Subways were also shut down in 2004 and 2007 (during rush hour no less!), due to 2 to 3 inches of rain in a one hour period. Authorities said if they had known of the storm’s severity, they could have prepared accordingly by throwing sandbags and wood over the vents.

Now that we vaguely know how intense Irene is expected to be, officials are preparing for the worst. A team of 200 hydraulic operators are standing by with portable pumps and the three most flood prone station areas: Jamaica, Tribeca, and the Upper West Side, all of which are on high alert. The current system can handle 1.5 inches of rain per hour and safely operates under winds of 39 mph or less. Irene is expected to drop 6 to 12 inches of rain with 90 mph winds, making a recipe for disaster.

+ MTA Weather Updates

via Gizmodo

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  1. lazyreader August 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

    New York City’s Subway floods all the time naturally due to the presence of underground water that permeates through the rock where the tunnels were dug. The system requires hundreds of sump pumps working around the clock diverting water out of the tunnels. I think a better question is can New York City’s Subways handle it’s own financial constraints. The NYC subway is the most cost effective transit system in America, yet still it’s very costly. They are in a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog. Not to mention the billions needed to complete the probably cancelled new lines they intend to build. Meanwhile tongues are wagging in New York City about a new transportation technology that doesn’t require you to descend into a dank tunnel smelling of urine, sweat, and Lysol. This wondrous new technology is called a bus, and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority used one to introduce a new bus-rapid transit line. Not only has it attracted many new riders, it has done so without costing more than 2 billion dollars a mile and more than a decade of planning and construction to start it up. Costing just 10 million to start, one new line offers frequent service with specially painted buses (as FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff says, “paint is cheaper than trains”). With red light priority the resulting buses are 41 percent faster than the local buses.