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Extra Effort Speeds Repair of Train Systems

 September 9, 2002  Issue     By Andrew Wright and Debra K. Rubin

The terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center's subway station on the 1/9 line and shut Port Authority Trans-Hudson commuter train service from New Jersey exacted a terrible price in death and destruction. It also provided a rare opportunity for New York City to reconfigure a key hub in its transportation network. Working 24-7 since last September 11, two New York-area transit agencies and their contractors are pushing to restore and interconnect key transportation links near Ground Zero.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority will resume full 1/9 subway service Sept. 15, a month ahead of schedule, with the joint venture repair contractor earning a $3-million bonus. With its own contractors proceeding on schedule, PATH trains will be running again by the end of 2003, officials say. Those two jobs began early this year with Ground Zero site clearance and account for nearly $700 million of transit-related cleanup, rehab construction and system improvements.

 
PATH WORK Project includes two terminals and Hudson River tunnels.
(Image courtesy of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

The work is really an intermediate fix that will establish the foundation for a more ambitious undertaking, between $4.55 billion and $7.5 billion of extensive downtown transit improvements. The centerpiece is a hub that will provide a single point for travelers at the tip of Manhattan to access ferry, commuter rail and subway service (ENR 8/19 p. 10). That project "will be sort of like a new Grand Central Terminal downtown," says Mysore L. Nagaraja, MTA chief engineer.

MTA designers working on the preliminary design for that project expect to have plans ready for public review near year's end, but few believe that the terminal will be in operation before 2008, at the earliest.

PATH train and subway service restoration are moving on a much faster track. "We're done on the 1 and 9," says Peter Tully, president of Tully Construction. Last winter MTA hired the Flushing, N.Y.-based contractor in joint venture with A.J. Pegno Construction Corp., College Point, N.Y. Although the contract scope was an evolving concept, the task at hand was fairly straightforward: restore 1/9 service as quickly as possible.

The attack closed three stations: Cortland St., within the World Trade Center; Rector St., a few blocks south of Ground Zero; and South Ferry, which provides access to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan. "We had 1,800 ft of subway line completely destroyed," says Nagaraja. MTA's in-house engineers, with assistance from New York City-based consulting engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., quickly decided to leave the Cortland station closed until a replacement could be integrated into Lower Manhattan Development Corp. site reconstruction plans.

The most expeditious plan meant reconstructing the track "exactly as it was upon completion in 1918, with the same alignment," says Nagaraja.

 
STRIPPED PATH tunnels get new conduit and track. (Photo by Michael Goodman for ENR)

The in-house estimate for restoring track, adding signal equipment and rehabilitating and reopening the Rector St. station was about $200 million. But the Tully-Pegno bid came in at $92 million. Change orders will push that to about $110 million, says Tully. Approximately $40 million worth of additional materials–track, power supplies, communication and signal systems–pushes the total to about $150 million, Nagaraja says. MTA, missing a vital connection in a 656-mile system that serves 4.8 million passengers every day, added change orders as it discovered the extent of the damage.

Early work involved stabilizing the interface between the subway line and the WTC "bathtub" foundation. Crews placed more than $500,000 worth of grout and gunnite in sinkholes and voids. Restoring the original station design meant building a box tunnel approximately 800 ft long and 100 ft wide, comprising steel bents on 5-ft centers, enclosed in concrete.

Working two 12-hour shifts daily, the joint venture took the change orders in stride and replaced 1,900 ft of track and fully restored and reconditioned the Rector St. station. A test train was scheduled to run Aug. 30, and New York Gov. George E. Pataki (R) is scheduled to inaugurate resumed service in a ceremony Sept. 15.

"It's amazing to see the new tracks and station in such a short time," says Tully. MTA advanced the contractors $20 million to purchase materials, Nagaraja says. A $100,000-per-day early completion bonus, capped at $3 million, added incentive. Tully-Pegno earned the full amount. "More than the money, there was an emotional commitment to the job, with both the contractor and our people," say Nagaraja. "You could see it this summer when the temperature was 95û to 100û in the tunnel. Nobody complained; they just kept working."

A can-do attitude also prevails on PATH train repairs, says Tom Groark, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey engineer of construction. A $544-million program includes three tasks: construction of a temporary terminal at the World Trade Center site, improvements to the Exchange Place terminal in Jersey City, N.J., and rehabilitation of the Hudson River tunnels connecting the two stations.

Tully and Pegno are also joint venture contract partners here, along with Yonkers, N.Y.-based Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc. When the port authority awarded the net-cost contract, "the project scope was not clearly defined," says Groark. Though an unprecedented event created the work, "we didn't change our spec book for this job. It's just on a very fast track," he says.

Site access was the first challenge. The 16-ft, 6-in.-dia tunnels were flooded for 40 days. By February crews began to strip out ruined conduits, ductwork, track and ballast. All will be replaced after minor structural repair to the tunnels.

 
BOX BUILDING Subway track enclosure and alignment mimics the 1918 original. (Photo by Michael Goodman for ENR)

Exchange Place improvements include new switches and connections to ferry terminals, track upgrades and tunnel expansion to accommodate 10-car trains. With office buildings above the station, subsurface work requires expertise, says Groark. In mica-schist, "we're using three methods: drill-and-blast, large impact hammers and a road-header that grinds the rock," he says.

Work will require removal of 12,000 cu yd of material. Exchange Place improvements are estimated at $160 million, the same amount as tunnel repair. The job is expected to wrap next spring, says Greg Trevor, PA spokesman.

Across the Hudson, the $224-million temporary station at the World Trade Center will feature three eight-train platforms, new escalators and elevators and subway access.

The wing walls for the station are already in place. "We're putting in new electrical and communications ducts," Tully says. Within a month, crews will start replacing track. The contractor is on or ahead of schedule on all three repair segments, Tully says, adding that service could resume as early as 2003.

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