NYC Subway Seen Likely to Flood as Storms Rise on Climate Change

New York City’s subway system is far from ready for climate change.

A report released Thursday by the Regional Plan Association predicted that the flooding of subway stations will become more frequent, with more than 20% of them at risk from storm surges like those that inundated the system during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Such flooding happened last week, when Tropical Storm Elsa dumped heavy rains on the state. And powerful storms are expected to increase in the area, as a result of global warming. As many as one-fifth of subway entrances, more than 400 in all, could be affected by flooding in an extreme scenario of rainfall reaching 3.5 inches per hour, according the report.

“While some observers have rightfully pointed out the subway system was not designed to account for climate change nearly 100 years ago, the reality remains: our transit infrastructure is still unprepared for climate change, particularly rain-induced flash floods,” according to the RPA report.

The subway operator, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has allocated about $140 million directly to future drainage projects in its current $51.5 billion capital plan. The city’s capital program will spend $4.6 billion during the next decade for sewer improvements, according to the report.

“While these investments are welcome, it is unclear the extent to which these commitments will improve the resilience of our transit system when it faces rain-induced flooding,” according to the report.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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