Preparing for the Frankenstorm, Snoreastercane…whatever you want to call it

Tracks at a Metro-North station were flooded after Tropical Storm Irene last year.

Now that the apocalypse is nearly upon us, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has decided to suspend bus, rail, and subway service beginning today at 7 p.m. That means anyone in New York planning to travel back to Connecticut should get on the train, well, ASAP. The MTA is doing this as part of its Hurricane Plan, which calls for a suspension of service before the approach of winds that may gust at 39 miles-per-hour or higher. Those are expected to start during the pre-dawn hours on Monday, the MTA says, hence the earlier shutdown.

Shore Line East’s web site has no travel advisories up at the moment…but I’d be impressed (slash slightly worried) if they didn’t make an announcement about that at some point today. Connecticut Transit, the state agency that heads up bus service in many Connecticut cities, is telling riders to watch for announcements but hasn’t made any yet. It’s probably safe to say, you shouldn’t be out on the road…or railroad tracks…starting tonight or really any time tomorrow.

During a conversation I had earlier this year with Metro-North’s President Howard Permut, Permut told me extreme weather is definitely taking a toll on the railroad. Metro-North recently added a line-item to its budget showing the number of overtime hours it would need to dedicate to weather emergencies: that number was 128,980 in 2012, adding up to $5.88 million.

Here’s a statement from Metro-North detailing other storm prep they’ve been doing:

“Metro-North personnel are stockpiling material in preparation for possible washouts or bank erosion, and are securing road crossing gates when necessary.

Much of Metro-North’s territory runs along rivers and the Long Island Sound With nearly 800 miles of tracks to take care of, Maintenance of Way workers have already begun preparing for Sandy at known trouble spots.

Culverts are being cleared of fallen limbs and other debris. Ditches and swales are being cleaned out. Pumps are being tuned up and put in place at known low spots such as New Haven Yard and Mott Haven Yard, while generators at all rail yards are being fueled and tested.

Cranes and excavators and back hoes are being positioned along the tracks, and a tree service contractor is on call to respond rapidly if needed.”