Community Board Opposes Part Of MTA’s Flood Prevention Plan

As we all know by now, especially those depending on the Queens Blvd corridor, the MTA’s kryptonite is rain. Heavy rains have been the MTA’s biggest opponent when it comes to operating their subway service. The worst defeat came last year during the August storm that saw flooding render the subway system useless in all 4 boroughs.

Since that storm, the MTA has been working on ways to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. Some of these ways were discussed when they released a storm report last September to then New York Governor Elliot Spitzer. One of the suggestions in the report was the following:

One of the most promising tools to fight sidewalk vent gratings/station entrance issues is street
furniture designed to raise vent heights to prevent water inflow.

This very idea has caused some uproar amongst members of Community Board 1 who feel such a plan is too much for what they feel is a rare occurrence. NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza has more in this report:

It was the kind of deluge that’s so rare, it’s known as a 100-year storm – and for something that has happened so infrequently, some say one of the MTA’s solutions makes no sense.

“The proposed solution to a 100-year flood risk is a permanent solution, so we’re going to have to live with it for the 99 and 3/4 years that we don’t have floods,” said Roger Byrom of Community Board 1.

That permanent solution is new street furniture that elevates the sidewalk grates, preventing water from cascading down into the system. The design also features benches and bike racks. In the next week or so, a prototype will be installed on West Broadway, with many more to follow.

But the local community board says the MTA should have a better response plan for heavy rains, instead of installing permanent structures they say will crowd the sidewalks and detract from a historic district. Then again, those 100 year storms aren’t so rare anymore.

Click here for the complete text & video for this report.

I can honestly see their point about the furniture taking up valuable room on sidewalks. Lets face it sidewalks throughout the city especially in Manhattan are usually crowded with what is currently on them much less permanent fixtures as this. However my main concern is preventing any sort of a repeat of what happened last August. Even if a storm of that nature is not happening, constant leaking of rain onto the tracks & tunnel is something that needs to be taken care of.

Before I pass complete judgment on the permanent structures, I would like to see them physically in person to determine how much of a hindrance it would truly be. In the end it really needs to be about system conditions over actual looks.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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