POINT LOOKOUT, Nassau County (WABC) -- Old train cars were used to create an artificial reef off the coast of Long Island Wednesday, part of a project Governor Andrew Cuomo is passionate about.
"This expansion of the state's artificial reef program is a testament to New York's unwavering commitment to environmental preservation and restoration in the absence of federal leadership that continues to jeopardize the health of vulnerable ecosystems," Cuomo said. "With this rail car and tugboat drop at Hempstead Reef, we continue to build on our efforts to energize local economies and build a healthier marine environment for future generations."
The old rail cars were used to create a reef three miles from Point Lookout, pushed into the water without incident and to the cheers of those watching.
It's the third year of the largest artificial reef expansion in New York history, as part the state's ongoing efforts to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off Long Island's shores.
Cuomo directed the strategic deployment of recycled materials, including a rail car donated by Wells Fargo Rail Corporation and the 70-foot steel tugboat "Jane," to Hempstead Reef to improve New York's diverse marine life and boost Long Island's recreational and sport fishing and diving industries.
Fifteen more rail cars and a steel turbine are set to be dropped to Hempstead Reef as part of the first phase of deployment.
Recycled materials from the State Department of Transportation, New York Power Authority/Canal Corporation and the Thruway Authority, among other public and private partners, are being put to new use and helping to develop New York's artificial reef sites.
In his 2020 State of the State address, Cuomo committed to doubling New York's existing reef acreage by expanding seven of 12 existing sites and creating four new artificial reefs in Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
This expansion will be complete by 2022.
Materials deployed in 2018 and 2019 to Hempstead Reef were provided by DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, Thruway Authority, New York City DOT, and the Tutor-Perini Corporation and include:
--4.5 million pounds of material from the old Mill Basin Drawbridge, including the former drawbridge's gatehouse building, Pier 7, bridge support concrete, other decommissioned drawbridge buildings, and concrete barriers
--Forty-seven concrete-filled steel caissons measuring up to 34 feet in length that once supported the original City Island Bridge
--Tappan Zee Bridge materials deployed include concrete road deck panels, concrete substructure (columns and caps) and concrete pipe piles
--Two decommissioned Erie Canal vessels at 115 and 75 feet respectively
--Two large NYPA turbine runners totaling 140 tons
--Four DOT bridge trusses, and
--Three barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material consisting of concrete decking, bridge supports, and pipe piles