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Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 7:23 PM
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Location: Bronx, NYC
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MTA's Plan To Prevent Flooding Faces Opposition

08/27/2008 10:47 AM

It was just over a year ago that flooding from a sudden rainstorm crippled the subway system, knocking out service on virtually every line at the height of the morning rush. The MTA is now taking steps to prevent a repeat, but NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza reports, the plan is running into some community opposition.

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.

"I think what we've found is that we've been having 100-year storms a lot more frequently than every 100 years,” said MTA Deputy Executive Director Christopher Boylan. “In fact, some of the locations that we're looking at, we've had numerous instances of flooding over the last year, year and a half, two years and so we need to do something."

One prototype has already been installed on Hillside Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, to be unveiled soon. It's bound to be an improvement over the MTA's short-term fix in the neighborhood: laying down blue tarp over the grates, weighed down with buckets of cement.

Plans to install benches and bike racks also sparked opposition on the Upper West Side, where the MTA planned to install them not on the sidewalks, but on the center mall at 79th, 86th and 91st Streets.

One objection there was that the design would clash with the existing wooden benches. The MTA is now reconsidering the design, but points out it worked with several other agencies in developing the concept.

"We worked with the arts commission, we worked with the landmarks preservation commission, they liked those designs. We're hoping the public will, and we're interested in some of the feedback when we put the prototypes out,” says Boylan.

Based on that feedback, the MTA says it may tweak the design, but says the most important thing is keeping the water out.
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