Administration official details $12B Sandy transportation recovery request

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Rogoff was testifying in a hearing that was the latest in a series of Capitol Hill inquires into the massive Hurricane Sandy, which badly damaged roads and railways along the East Coast with flooding.

Rogoff told lawmakers in testimony submitted before the meeting Thursday that Sandy “triggered the worst transit disaster in U.S. history.

“On the Tuesday morning following the storm, more than half of the nation’s daily transit riders were without service,” Rogoff told the panel. “Even in the days that followed, as services in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. came back on line, 37 percent, or well over one-third, of the nation’s public transit riders still had no access to regular train or bus service.”

Rogoff said the widespread damage was why $6.2 billion of the FTA’s portion of the Sandy recovery funds would be directed to the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program that was established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill that was passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

The remaining $5.5 million would be used to fortify the transportation systems to avoid a repeat occurrence, he said.

“It is extremely important that going forward, we rebuild our public transit and other transportation systems with greater resiliency, so they are able to better withstand powerful natural and man-made disasters,” he said. “This also entails building greater redundancy into public transit and other transportation systems, to ensure that viable alternatives are available when primary systems—like the New York subway—are crippled.”

The chairman of the Senate panel agreed with Rogoff.

“[The] Hoboken PATH station was badly flooded…should we put that station back together with the same exact vulnerability to flooding, or should we rebuild in a way that should prevent such extensive flooding in the future,” Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said.

“Of course we should rebuild to protect against future storms,” Menendez continued. “It seems to me that it is not only common sense, but for my friends who are fiscal conservative, to ultimate ensure that we don’t have repetitive loss.”