Rail service on the Port Jervis line to resume by year's end

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:30

Repairs to cost $50 million; Metro North seeks help from FEMA and insurance Tuxedo — Repairs on the Port Jervis Line, at an estimated cost of $50 million, will allow train service to resume by the end of the year, according to a damage assessment presented this week at the MTA Metro-North Railroad committee meeting. Metro-North is working with the MTA to identify the necessary funds, including maximum reimbursement from FEMA and insurance, according to a press release issued by Metro North Railroad. About 2,800 people a day rely on the Port Jervis Line. After the track is reopened in December and train service is resumed, occasional busing will continue in select off-peak periods to allow completion of flood mitigation measures and river bank stabilization that are necessary to protect the railroad’s significant investment in the line. The full pre-storm train schedule will be restored when the second track between Harriman and Suffern is finished in fall 2012. Metro-North had an alternate bus service in place two days after the Aug. 28 storm. On Sept. 19, train service was restored between Port Jervis and Harriman, with bus service provided from Harriman to Ramsey/Route 17. This temporary service plan will remain in effect during the track reconstruction. In all, busing is expected to cost about $10 million over two years. Metro-North will seek a contractor to rebuild the line, which was ravaged by floods during Tropical Storm Irene last month. An expedited bidding process is planned with a reconstruction contract to be awarded by Oct. 15. Damage assessment Metro-North forces already have begun to replace stone washed away by the Ramapo River, which parallels the track in some locations and crosses under it in others. According to the Metro North press release, an engineering assessment has determined that it will take about 150,000 tons of stone - roughly 5,000 tractor-trailer-sized dump trucks - to stabilize the track bed and shore up the river bank for the long term. Engineers estimate that 90 percent of the repair work will be replacement of stone washed away by flooding in a 14-mile stretch between Suffern and Harriman. There are 50 washouts that add up to two miles of right-of-way that no longer exists. Fast-moving water overtopped the tracks and scoured away ballast, sub-base and earth to depths of seven feet. Large sections of track hang in mid-air; some track was grossly twisted out of alignment by the force of the water. Inspections also were performed on 16 bridges, both above and below water. Undermining to abutments and piers was discovered at five bridges and an old stone arch bridge has settled. Damage to bridges was not as extensive as was originally feared, Metro North indicated in its press release. Debris, including uprooted trees and boulders, covers sections of the track and buried utilities are exposed. Private utility companies have been notified and will be required to inspect the condition of utility and to temporarily reroute lines, if needed, to expedite track reconstruction. Repairs Metro North said the first priority is to restore train service on one track for the four miles between Suffern and Sloatsburg, which was double tracked, and on the 10 miles between Sloatsburg and Harriman, which is a single track. This includes rebuilding the track bed sub-grade, replacing stone in the washout areas, compacting the loose stone and surfacing the right-of-way. Also critical is repair work on the bridges that carry tracks over streams and roads and rebuilding the slopes adjacent to the river. The initial work will be performed jointly by a contractor working 24 hours a day/7 days a week and by Metro-North Maintenance of Way forces. The contract will be structured with financial incentives for early completion before the end of the year and penalties for delays in completion. With the slopes shored up, reconstruction of the second track between Suffern and Sloatsburg, repair of the signal system and long-term bridge repairs can be undertaken. Some of this work will have to wait until spring because it can’t be done when temperatures are below freezing. Find out more Details of the service plan as well as the engineering assessment and a power point presentation on the restoration effort are available at mta.info.