Restoration of the R and N subway lines, disrupted by the destruction of the World Trade Center, may not be as far off as originally feared, although transit officials are not ready to say exactly when.
Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter along with other officials and engineers walked through the R and N subway tunnel from the City Hall station to the Cortlandt Street station in Lower Manhattan last week to survey the damage from the collapse of the Twin Towers.
The verdict: not nearly as a serious as originally thought.
Al OLeary, spokesman for the Transit Authority, said Reuter was pleased to find the tunnel serving the R and N lines were in better-than-expected condition.
OLeary said debris and dirt chokes the R and N line stations and tunnels in the disaster area but that clearing out the materials might not require as much time as first estimated. Nevertheless, OLeary said the TA was not yet able to be specific as to when the two lines could be back to normal.
Technicians have been using a meter to measure vibration to determine if the rescue and cleanup above at what has become known as Ground Zero on the site of the World Trade Center, threatens the integrity of tunnels. Engineers have been concerned about the effect of huge trucks filled with tons of debris on the tunnels.
But unlike the No. 1 and 9 lines, where falling heavy steel beams punched holes in the tunnels, the R and N tunnels appear undamaged.
Regular service on the R and N was suspended after the attack on the Twin Towers, but W trains have taken up the slack for riders on the N train in Queens. Additional trains to Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria have been added on the W route.
Q trains have replaced the R in Queens from 57th Street in Manhattan to 71st Avenue in Forest Hills.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.