Bridges reopening, partial bus service to return at 5 p.m.: Officials
With the region's mass transit system at a standstill after Hurricane Sandy slammed New York City, city agencies were slowly trying to open its bridges and restore some bus service, though it will take far longer to reopen tunnels and subway stations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that bridges would reopen at noon, though the Brooklyn Battery and Holland Tunnels would stay closed because of flooding. The city announced its East River bridges were open to regular traffic on Tuesday morning, including the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Ed Koch Queensboro bridges. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said other city bridges would likely reopen soon.
Cuomo and the MTA said partial bus service would resume in the city at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and Cuomo said he was hopeful full service may resume by Wednesday. Fares will not be charged either day, the agency said. A timeline for subway service restoration was not given, he said, because the agency was still assessing damage.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said the storm "wreaked havoc" on the system, adding that several tunnels and tubes were still underwater Tuesday. At downtown subway stations, "the water is literally up to the ceiling," he said, though subway cars and buses were miracuously unharmed by the storm.
Lhota said the subway system would likely return "in parts," with "creative" bus routes supplementing missing service.
"if there are parts of the subway system that we can get up, we will get them up," Lhota said during a news conference with Cuomo. "We will complement them with our bus service as well."
JFK airport was expected to reopen on Wednesday, Cuomo said, but damage at LaGuardia Airport meant it would stay closed.
Several streets in Midtown Manhattan remained closed near West 57th Street, where a construction crane partially collapsed Monday afternoon, leaving its beam dangling off the side of the building. Bloomberg said the crane couldn't be fully harnessed until winds died down.
Bloomberg also authorized cabbies to pick up several passengers to share a ride while subway service was down; livery cabs that are normally prohibited from accepting street hails are permitted to do so.