By Jill Colvin DNAinfo
The South Ferry subway station will welcome its first trains since being devastated by Hurricane Sandy next month.
The reopening is far ahead of schedule, officials said Friday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had originally said it would take up to three years and cost $600 million for trains to return to the station, which was flooded with corrosive salt water all the way to the mezzanine level, ravaging electrical and mechanical systems.
But the MTA is now planning a work-around. Beginning the first week of April, trains will begin running into an old, next-door loop station which had operated until 2009, when the station was rebuilt.
“The MTA has a long, tough job ahead as it tackles the immense job of virtually rebuilding the new South Ferry terminal station that was flooded 80 feet deep during Superstorm Sandy,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday.
“For the extended period of time it will take for this work to be completed, we are returning the old station in the complex to service, making travel easier and more convenient for Staten Islanders and others who work and visit this area.”
The MTA expects to spend $2 million to refurbish the old station, which requires moveable platform edge extenders to bridge gaps between the platform and subway cars and can only accommodate the first five cars of 10-car trains.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the opening was good news for people who work and live downtown and depend on the 1 train, which has been terminating at Rector Street since the storm.
“That’ll help people,” he said during his weekly radio show Friday. “When you get off the Staten Island Ferry, or if you work very far downtown at the tip of Manhattan, that’s a very useful subway stop,” he said.
An MTA spokesman said that returning the new South Ferry Station to service will still take between two and three years.
The federal government has already given the MTA $629,100 to begin recovery work at the station, including pumping out water and removing debris.