Summer storms sounded the climate change alarm for the subway

New York (Associated Press)-When Hurricane Ida fell Record-breaking rain On the East Coast this month, the stairs leading to the New York City subway tunnel turned into waterfalls and the train tracks turned into canals.

In Philadelphia, a commuter line along the Schuylkill River was washed away for miles, and the busiest rail line in the United States—the Northeast Corridor of Amtrak from Boston to Washington— Turn off All day long.

Nearly ten years after Superstorm Sandy Stimulate The billions of dollars in investment for coastal flood protection up and down the east coast – some of which are still unfinished – this summer’s Hurricane Ida and other storms are a clear reminder that more needs to be done – and quickly – Because climate change has brought stronger and stronger transportation experts and officials said that the region has the oldest and busiest transportation system in the country, and the weather is unpredictable.

“This is the moment we make sure that our transportation system is prepared,” said Sanjay Seth, the project manager of Boston’s Climate Resilience. “In the next 10 years, we need to do a lot of things, and we must do it well. There is no need to build twice.”

In New York, during Ada, about 75 million gallons (285 million liters) of water were pumped out of the subway, and ambitious solutions have surfaced, such as building a canal in the city.

But at the same time, relatively simple short-term repairs to the transportation system can be carried out, said Janno Lieber, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

For example, installing curbs at subway entrances can prevent water from pouring down the steps into the tunnel, as in Countless viral videos this summer.

In the coming decades, extreme rainfall caused by climate change may affect more than 400 subway entrances. According to the forecast From the Regional Planning Association, a think tank that plans to propose the concept of the canal system.

“The subway system is not a submarine. It cannot be made impervious,” Lieber said. “We just need to limit the speed at which it enters the system.”

In Boston, efforts to combat climate change have focused on the Blue Line, which extends below Boston Harbor and across the city’s northern coastline.

This summer’s storm was the first real test of some of the latest measures to buffer fragile routes.

When Tropical Storm Henry made landfall in New England in August, the flood barrier at an important waterfront stop in the city center was activated for the first time. There were no reports of major damage to the station.

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said officials are now seeking federal funding to build a seawall at another important Blue Line subway station to prevent flooding. He said the agency has also set a budget for upgrading port tunnel pumps and is considering building berms around the vast swamps along the Blue Line.

In Philadelphia, some of the flood prevention measures completed after Superstorm Sandy this summer proved their worth, while others were not satisfactory.

Bob Lund, deputy general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said that after Sandy, the signal cabin on the heavily-hit Manayank/Norristown commuter route was raised after Sandy. But it is not enough to avoid damage during Ada.

On the bright side, coastline “protection” measures prevented the destructive erosion of the region’s largest flood since the mid-1800s. Lund said this has pushed for plans to continue to use reinforced concrete blocks to reinforce more sections of the river along the river.

He said, if anything, this year’s storms indicate that flood forecasts have not kept up with environmental changes.

“We are seeing more frequent storms and higher water level events,” Lund said. “We must be more conservative than our own predictions.”

Sherrie Ly, a spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, said that in Washington, during Hurricane Ida, the Cleveland Park station on the Red Line, which is vulnerable to flooding, was closed twice, and transportation officials have begun to develop climate resilience plans. To determine vulnerabilities and prioritize investment.

She said that this is the foundation of WMATA’s work to mitigate flood risks in the past two decades, such as improving ventilation shafts, upgrading drainage systems and installing dozens of large-capacity pumping stations.

Jesse Keenan, an associate professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, who co-authored a report, said that in general, the East Coast Transportation System has taken commendable steps, such as drafting a climate change plan and hiring expert. Recent studies Examine the risks of climate change to Boston T.

But he pointed out that whether Washington’s plan is ambitious enough is an open question, where subway lines along the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers to Maryland and Virginia are particularly fragile.

Similar concerns persist in other global cities that have experienced severe flooding this year.

In China, Premier Li Keqiang promise Then hold the officials accountable 14 people died In July, hundreds of people were trapped in the flooded Zhengzhou subway line. However, there are no specific recommendations on what measures can be taken to prevent deadly subway floods.

Bob Ward, a climate change expert at the London School of Economics, said that in London, efforts to solve the Victorian sewer and drainage system were too piecemeal to alleviate the city’s fight against flooding.

This city saw Monsoon dripping In July, this prompted the closure of the subway station.

“It’s just that there is no necessary urgency,” Ward said. “We know that unless we significantly increase investment, these rainfall events will get worse, and floods will get worse.”

At the same time, other cities are acting more quickly to support their infrastructure.

Tokyo completed an underground system for water diversion in 2006, and its room was large enough to accommodate one Space shuttle or statue of liberty.

Copenhagen’s underground city loop was completed in 2019, with heavy flood gates, elevated entrance passages and other Adaptation to climate change.

Michael Martello, an MIT researcher who co-authored the Boston study with Keenan, said how to pay for more ambitious climate change projects remains another major question mark for East Coast cities.

Despite the injection of federal stimulus funds during the pandemic, Boston’s T and other transit agencies still face Alarming budget shortage Because the number of passengers has not returned to the level before the pandemic.

Stunning images of this summer’s flooding briefly pushed through the efforts of President Joe Biden 3.5 trillion USD infrastructure plan. But this huge spending bill, including funds for combating climate change, is still under negotiation in Congress.

“It’s great to have these plans,” Martello said. “But it must be built in some way and funded.”

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Marcelo reports from Boston. The Associated Press correspondent in Beijing, Condak, contributed to this report.

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