MTA provides updates on inspections, prevention efforts over fallen debris

Kimberly Dole
November 08, 2019 - 12:56 pm

Juliet Papa/ 1010 WINS

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- After a number of incidents and close calls, MTA officials on Friday, provided updates on its inspections of containment baskets throughout the system. 

A series of ongoing efforts to prevent prevent and address challenges associated with falling debris in the subway system was also announced.

Terri Rumph, a highly regarded NYCT executive, will be leading the organization’s Division of Track.

Rumph will be responsible for maintenance and construction activity across all 800 miles of NYC Transit tracks, including ongoing efforts to improve the track inspection process.

“Today marks the end of a comprehensive series of inspections, but our work to reduce falling debris continues in earnest,” said Sally Librera, Senior Vice President for Subways, New York CityTransit. "We’re also deploying existing technologies like video from our track geometry car in new ways so that we can identify potentially vulnerable parts of the system. And we have appointed a very talented and experienced Chief of Track."

MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford said, “I take such incidents extremely seriously and have directed my team on an ongoing basis to take all necessary actions and expend all resources to prevent debris from falling from elevated structures. In addition to post-incident inspections, we are taking aggressive action to proactively prevent debris from dislodging and to catch it if it does come loose. Any of my team found to be derelict in maintaining or inspecting safety equipment, including elevated structure containment baskets, will be held fully accountable.”

On Wednesday, Byford launched a seven-day inspection blitz, to hand-check each metal basket. Inspectors will check out all 325,000 baskets by hand, to help combat the falling debris.

The inspections come after an incident Tuesday in which a 15-pound D-Wedge (used for keeping spacing between rail and guardrail) came to lose and fell from an A train line.

According to a report, the basket was not properly secured at the time causing the wedge to fall onto the back of a cab.

No one inside of the car was harmed during the incident. 

The MTA reported that the metal basket was misaligned after a bolt came loose near the N,W line near Queensboro plaza on October 23, adding that disciplinary actions have been taken.

In addition, the MTA says that netting has been added to elevated structures at four test sites including the 121st Street and 111th Street stops on the J/Z lines in Jamaica, Queens, the N/W 39th Ave station in Astoria, the 61 St-Woodside station on the 7 train in Flushing and at the 125 St station, in Harlem

Transit officials demonstrated some of the new techniques and hardware components that Transit has will now utilize as part of ongoing efforts to combat falling debris, including a new prototype retainer basket.

Work to address the protective netting was already underway prior to the unprecedented inspection blitz of the last week.

NYCT leadership continues to examine new and innovative ways to keep elevated tracks safe.

Transit officials will apply an even greater level of rigor to its inspection process by requiring that any condition on the elevated structure that could lead to falling materialbe given highest priority for resolution.

They will also continue to look for engineering solutions that keep hardware in place, and ensure secondary protective measures are comprehensive and effective. 

"We’re changing the way we prioritize which defects get immediate repairs so that we can address issues on the elevated structure as fast as possible." said Terri Rumph. "We have an outstanding team of dedicatedtrack inspectors in place who adhere by a rigorous set of standards when checking vast sections of track each day for potential defects. Even so, there is always more we can be doing and I am prepared to lead when it comes to identifying how we can improveour work further."

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