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MTA Announces Completion of Sandy Resiliency Work in F Line's East River Tunnel

Updated March 31, 2021 11:45 a.m.

Resiliency Work Completed On Time and On Budget Despite Ongoing Pandemic; Project Part of $2 Billion in Accelerated Work Announced by Governor Cuomo and the MTA


The MTA Has Now Renewed and Fortified All 11 of Its Under-River Tunnels Damaged by Superstorm Sandy’s Corrosive Floodwaters

Completion of Tunnel Rehabilitation Highlights Importance of Federal Infrastructure Funding to Advance MTA’s Historic Capital Program 


Renewal Work at Chinatown’s East Broadway Station Completed 


View Video of Completed Tunnel Taken From an F Train Cab 


See Photos of Tunnel Work Underway 


President of MTA Construction & Development Janno Lieber today announced that work to repair the line’s tunnel under the East River has been completed, on time and on budget. The tunnel is the last of the MTA’s 11 under-river tunnels that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy’s corrosive floodwaters to be repaired and made more resilient against future storms.

Despite the pandemic, the MTA worked safely and smartly to complete this major project, leveraging the innovations of the train tunnel project which was successfully completed last fall. The tunnel rehabilitation was part of the $2 billion in work accelerated over the summer during lower ridership by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the MTA.

“With the completion of this work, the MTA has rehabilitated all 11 tunnels damaged during Sandy, further fortifying the system against future natural disasters,” Lieber said. “We completed this tunnel work in record time using strategies similar to those we pioneered on the  train tunnel project: use state-of-the art technology and work smarter and faster so that the project costs less and impacts customers for a shorter time.”

“This project was made possible by Federal funds for Superstorm Sandy recovery and resiliency work, which highlights the crucial important role that Federal funding plays for infrastructure work at a time that Congress and President Biden are preparing a major new infrastructure bill,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of MTA New York City Transit. “Renewed infrastructure means more reliability. Our customers now have a system that is more resilient than ever.”

Known as the Rutgers Tube because it is aligned under Rutgers Street on the Lower East Side, the tunnel is actually a pair of parallel tubes that run between the East Broadway station in Manhattan and the York St station in Brooklyn that were flooded with 1.5 million gallons of saltwater from the Sandy storm surge.

Today’s announcement marks the completion of the tunnel rehabilitation work that has required service impacts to the   line, which was rerouted over the and lines for 17 weekends beginning in September 2020 and many weekday overnights during the same period. At the same time, the  was rerouted over the line to Delancey-Essex Sts. Related work under this contract continues through the fall as crews turn their focus to improving tunnel ventilation plants and signal resiliency. To enable this work, which will take place outside the tunnel, weekend subway service changes are anticipated for approximately four weekends during the spring and summer months.

Regardless of what hours they ride, subway customers will benefit from improved service reliability on the line and upgraded station components at the East Broadway station, including a widened stairway and new station tile and platform surfaces. The tunnel is now ready for cellular service to begin once agreements with cell carriers are reached.

The project’s construction timeline is the fastest of all Sandy tube rehabilitations. The MTA's Construction & Development division has deployed lessons learned during the  Project, including the installation of a similar cable management racking system to the one installed in the line’s East River Tunnel. The Rutgers Tube rehabilitation is also the first under-river tube project to use the fast-track “design-build” approach, rather than design-bid-build. Design-build harnesses innovation and makes projects more efficient by having a single vendor be responsible for both design and construction.

Crews have installed new tracks, signal equipment, power and communication cables, and tunnel lighting. Teams are also bolstering the resiliency of the pumping system. In total, crews have:


  • Replaced 4,635 feet of subway tracks 
  • Installed a cable management rack system (CMRS) for the entire length of the Rutgers Tube  
  • Laid 73,000 feet of signal cable, 44,000 feet of communications cable, 36,000 feet of fiber optic cable, 33,000 feet of cell service cable, 22,500 feet of radio antenna cable, 10,000 feet of cell service power cable, 10,000 feet of cell service antenna cable 
  • Repaired 250 feet of tunnel wall known as the “duct bench” where cables are housed.
  • Performed significant upgrades at Chinatown’s East Broadway station including: 
    • 11,700 square feet of platform renewal
    • 13,000 square feet of wall tile replacement
    • 1,360 feet of platform edge removal and replacement
    • Leak mitigation