MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Five years ago, Superstorm Sandy forced the closing of the Queens Midtown and Hugh Carey tunnels, inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of commuters for weeks.
On Sunday, MTA's Bridges and Tunnels Division tested newly installed 25-ton floodgates on the Manhattan side of the Hugh Carey Tunnel. These massive floodgates are now in place on two entrances to the Hugh Carey and also two entrances to the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
MTA Deputy Chief Engineer Romolo DeSantis said the $64 million flood gate project is halfway completed. DeSantis said all eight portal openings will have flood gates by the end of this year.
Video from the MTA shows the flood gates being tested:
He said, however, that they put the first four gates on the flood-prone sides of the two tunnels, so that in the event of a major storm the MTA can currently seal the tunnels in about 30 minutes.
While the Norfolk, Virginia, area already uses tunnel flood gates, they are much smaller than those now deployed by the MTA.
DeSantis said retrofitting the two tunnels with the huge flood gates has been a monumental undertaking that required ingenuity, investigation and intensely focused teamwork. The restoration of the two tunnels has included a complete rebuilding of the electrical, lighting and pumping systems, plus wall tiles and ceiling panels.
DeSantis said the gates will protect the Hugh Carey and Midtown Tunnels from a storm surge 4 feet higher than Sandy's.