Last week, the MTA made the historic decision to shut service across its system with Hurricane Irene's approach. It took a few days for the MTA to recover from flooding and service was restored—except to the Port Jervis line on the Metro-North commuter rail. The Port Jervis line, in the MTA's words, has sustained "catastrophic damage" and the agency has invoked "emergency powers" to get the line rebuilt.
According to the MTA, the emergency powers will allow it to tap reserve funds "to begin work even as the MTA pursues FEMA compensation for the extensive storm damage" and waive normal procurement rules "to allow Metro-North to quickly acquire the resources and assistance needed to rebuild, beginning with the hiring of an engineering consultant to advise on the work within days." Outgoing MTA CEO Jay Walder said, "There are sections of track literally suspended in the air, and in many places we will have to build a new railroad from scratch, from the foundation to the tracks to the signals."
It's believed the rebuilding will take months, and the MTA has buses take commuters from Port Jervis to the Beacon station. A Port Jervis resident whose commute to Manhattan takes 2 hours and 10 minutes from the station told the NY Times that her commute will now take another hour, "If they don’t rebuild, that means I don’t have a convenient or affordable way to get to work. It would be a ridiculous hardship."