Elevating Electrical Substations for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has implemented projects to elevate electrical substations relied upon by critical transit systems – the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) and LaGuardia Airport in New York City – in order to better protect them from flooding during storm events.  PANYNJ is in the process of elevating two Substations for the PATH system that were damaged during Sandy and elevating and replacing an outdated substation at LaGuardia Airport. 

Substation 7 provides electricity for 7 miles of rail for the PATH system between Newark Penn Station and Journal Square Station (Jersey City).  In 2011, design for a new Substation 7 was approved that would stand 2.5 feet above the 100-year flood level, in accordance with the agency’s Sustainable Infrastructure Design Guidelines. It is unclear if the substation was partially or fully built as designed before experiencing severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. In rebuilding the system after Sandy, PANYNJ decided to take a more asset-specific approach, taking into account asset life expectancy and criticality to determine whether and how high to elevate an asset. As a result of this analysis, Substation 7 will be rebuilt as a taller, two-story building with steel frames, but it is unclear at this time whether it will be elevated more than the base requirement (2.5 feet, or 30 inches above 100-year), according to the asset criticality analysis. As of early 2015, the project was in the final design stage, with construction anticipated to occur between March 2016 and March 2019. The project is expected to cost $48 million.

Substation 9, which provides traction power to the same stretch of rail between Jersey City and Newark Penn Station, will also be rebuilt as a taller building to protect against flooding damage.  The existing Substation 9 is 42 years old and at the end of its service life, and was also damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Design work on Substation 9 began in 2014; the project is estimated to cost $59.5 million, and construction is expected to begin in April 2016 and end in June 2019. PANYNJ also received $141.5 million in federal relief funds to repair the damage Sandy caused to the PATH system.

Another substation replacement project is underway at LaGuardia Airport. During Hurricane Sandy, LaGuardia was inundated with 100 million gallons of water from storm surge. As a result, the airport lost power and was closed for weeks. To help the airport better maintain power during storms and flooding, the new East End Substation will replace the outdated Central Electrical Substation servicing the airport. The original substation, already near operating capacity, was not built to withstand the threat of extreme storms, as it was located in an area of the airport particularly susceptible to flooding. To avoid flood damage, the new East End Substation will stand three stories tall, and is located over 150 feet further back from Flushing Bay than its predecessor. Critical electrical infrastructure will be raised over 15 feet above sea level, placing it well above the 100-year flood elevation.  The project cost totals $84 million and is supported by PANYNJ agency funds. It is anticipated to be completed at the end of 2016.

The Port Authority is implementing other projects to make LaGuardia Airport more resilient to future storms, including installing floodwalls, installing flood barrier berms around another substation, replacing existing electricity generators with more efficient ones, and installing gravity drains to keep the airfield free of floodwater.

 

This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 31, 2016.

 

 

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  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

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