With much of the immediate Superstorm Sandy recovery work completed, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is turning its sights on longer-term projects caused by the storm. Agency officials who spoke at ENR New York's 4th Annual MTA MWDBE Conference, held May 9 in New York, encouraged minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs) to look to the MTA for recovery work opportunities.

Photo Courtesy of MTA NY Transit/Lenny Wiggins
Send Singals: Crews work on signal and communications cables on the A line in the Rockaways that were severely damaged by the storm.

NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson gave the keynote address at the event. Thompson, a former NYC comptroller, chairs New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo's MWBE Task Force.

Details have yet to be publicized but MTA's NYC Transit plans to advertise bids of "well over $100 million" the week of May 13 for work on the East River tubes severely damaged by the storm, says Clifford Slater, NYC Transit assistant chief procurement officer. Much of the work involves major replacement of cabling in the tubes and calls for civil, electrical and plumbing contractors as well as other specialists, he says.

The tubes, which contain communication and electrical equipment as well as power lines for the trains, were compromised when they filled with salt water, he says. "We quickly did some repairs—the things that were out of commission. But we have a long-range problem, principally with the cabling that's underneath the tubes," Slater says. That's because of salt water corrosion, which tends to cause shorts and cable breaks, he adds.

Slater says the agency has other work that has not yet been posted because it is still under discussion.

Metro-North Railroad expects to let bids in the first or second quarter of 2014, says Anthony Gardner, Metro-North Railroad deputy director of procurement policy. One will be for about $40 million and another will be in two phases of about $100 million each, he says.

"The majority of our damage was sustained on the Hudson Line," Gardner says. Significant work is needed relating to communication and signal equipment, he says.

For the Long Island Rail Road, most of the work involves substations, signals and tunnels, says Richard Mack, the railroad's director of capital construction contracts. "You're often talking about very old infrastructure and the actual investigation to determine the state of the actual damage is a very complex undertaking."

LIRR's Long Beach Branch was particularly damaged during the storm. Mack says that bids will open on May 20 for replacement of this branch's Oceanside and Oil City substations, both heavily damaged by the storm. The project has a 10% DBE participation goal, he adds.

"We have other projects coming online as well," including the Long Beach substation, which is located inside of a structure, Mack says. Bids for this project will likely be advertised later this year, he adds.

Meanwhile, speakers said that damage estimates could change as their respective divisions are still trying to quantify the storm's damage.

"Right now the agencies are in the investigative stages and are really trying to determine the actual extent of the damage," Mack says. "In many instances, there will be a need for the design before we go into the construction phase."

Several of the speakers also encouraged MWDBEs to look to the agency for work and to become certified if they are not already.