All aboard! The R train is once again running riders between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority closed the Montague Tunnel in August 2013 to repair extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy. The round-the-clock repair project was slated to last 14 months, but the Authority ramped up work and finished a month ahead of schedule — much to straphangers’ delight.
“It’s great — this is the only central option I have,” said rider Jen Tullock, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and catches a train from Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center into Manhattan for work every day. With the tube open, Tullock will shave 10 minutes off her commute, she said.
The 2012 hurricane flooded the nearly mile-long tunnel from floor to ceiling with 27 million gallons of debris-filled salt water, damaging tracks, electrical equipment, and the tunnel’s concrete walls, according to the Authority.
When the project was first announced, the Authority’s top dog said the work rivalled building a new tunnel.
“The job we have ahead of us is the closest thing there is to building an under-river tube from scratch,” Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast said when work began in August 2013.
Since then, workers laid 11,000 feet of new track, installed new switches, and fitted three new pumps that can remove 1,900 gallons of water per minute, according to the Authority.
The repair job even came in $60 million under-budget — but that doesn’t mean it was easy. In order to repair the subaqueous tunnel’s walls, the Authority even had to drive cement trucks into the tunnel on subway rails.
One Brooklynite said the reopened tunnels are a major win, but he’ll miss having an R Train dedicated to Brooklyn.
“When they only went to Court Street, the trains used to be a lot more frequent,” said Lou Camporeale, who takes the train from Gravesend to Downtown Brooklyn daily. “It was a nice little perk while it lasted.”