January 29, 2013

NJ Transit reopens terminal waiting room

NJ Transit will reopen its Hoboken Terminal waiting room on Jan. 29, providing a heated shelter and temporary seating for customers as the agency continues with remediation work to address storm-related flood damage from Hurricane Sandy.

At the height of Hurricane Sandy, Hudson River flooding immersed the entire terminal in at least five feet of water. When the water receded, six to eight inches of mud and debris were left behind. Flooding damaged all areas of the main concourse, including the ticket office, customer service office, station operations, transportation operations, vendors and the food court.

Since December 19, 2012, the Hoboken Terminal waiting room has been closed, after NJ Transit rail operations and environmental consultants conducted a post-hurricane assessment of the terminal and determined additional remediation work was required to address mold growth. In response, NJ Transit hired remediation contractors to address mold issues throughout the terminal.

Work to prepare the waiting room for reopening has included power-washing the walls; replacing heaters and heater motors; replacing electrical panels, outlets and wiring; and stripping and sealing the floors. Remaining work includes cleaning, refinishing and resetting benches and other affected woodwork, to be performed in the near future.

In advance of the opening, NJ Transit took all necessary precautions to ensure the waiting room is safe for customers until mold remediation work can be completed. All wooden structures, including the benches, newsstand and shoe shine, will be covered in plastic and sealed, providing a barrier to the mold. Every opening to peripheral rooms, such as the ticket office and crew quarters, will also be taped and sealed in plastic to prevent mold exposure. In addition, barricades will be erected as needed.

In order to restore heating to the waiting room, NJ Transit had to procure a temporary boiler and connect it to the terminal’s intricate piping system. The previous boiler was completely inundated with water during the storm.  Because the boiler is a large, complex unit, it could not be replaced by an “off-the-shelf” unit and took considerable time to procure.

Extensive work is required to address damage in other parts of the terminal. All tenant space, including the recently constructed food court, needs to be completely gutted and rebuilt and all mold-contaminated structure elements need replacing. Similarly, the public restrooms, storage areas and crew quarters — including 550 employee lockers — must be gutted and rebuilt.

To enhance customer comfort while storm recovery work is ongoing, NJ Transit is looking into offering improved interim amenities for customers. Since Jan. 22, NJ Transit has accommodated customers in Hoboken with idling, heated trains equipped with restrooms for customer use. In addition, customers will now have access to four railcars equipped with restrooms that will be parked in the middle of the terminal.

As soon as the storm ended, NJ Transit personnel, together with the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, responded to the site for the initial assessment of storm damage and to begin making any initial cleanup and repairs. A significant portion of the cleanup efforts began even before the water receded.

Due to Hoboken Terminal’s historic status, NJ Transit has coordinated with the State Historic Preservation Office for remediation work on areas of the terminal that have historic significance. NJ Transit is also working with the Department of Community of Affairs on inspections and permitting.

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