NJ Transit head assesses Sandy damage for panel

TRENTON – The state’s rail system “took the brunt of Sandy’s wrath” and sustained roughly $400 million in damage, the head of NJ Transit told Assembly lawmakers.

James Weinstein, executive director of NJ Transit, testified during an Assembly panel Monday to talk with lawmakers about the condition of the state’s transportation infrastructure following the devastation of super storm Sandy.

Weinstein told lawmakers the epic storm caused roughly $100 million in damage to rail equipment and some $300 million will be needed to repair and replace track wires, signaling, electrical substations and other equipment.

“Moreover, this $400 million does not include the $800 million we estimate is necessary to make our transit system more resilient in the face of future storms like Sandy,” Weinstein said.

The executive director testified that parts of the transit infrastructure were set up in areas that officials say were not in floodplains.

“The bottom line is our decision-making process was sound. It was based on the best information available at the time,” he said. “However, with that said, we now know that area is susceptible to flooding and we will be informed moving forward when making these decisions.”

Weinstein said lines are now running more than 90 percent of full service.

“We need to understand those things that went well,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, (D-19),  Sayreville, adding, lawmakers also need to understand what things did not work well.

When pressed by lawmakers what can be done in the future to be better prepared, Weinstein again stressed the epic nature of the storm.

“The reality is that there is no history of flooding at the Meadowlands complex,” he said, adding the same was the case for the western part of Hoboken.

“We are informed now,” he said. “We now know that under circumstances like Sandy that that is going to flood. So, we have to come up with better ideas.”


NJ Transit head assesses Sandy damage for panel