MTA Hopes Inflatable Plugs can Protect Subways from Natural Disasters

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Inflatable Plug

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been looking into some solutions that could shield subway tunnels in New York from flood waters. The need for this comes after the subway system was crippled by hurricane Sandy.

During hurricane Sandy, eight subway tunnels were flooded when the old disaster system failed. Previously, sandbags and plywood were used to keep the water at bay. However, the 108 year old system had never faced such a powerful storm. So the MTA knew that a new system needed to be invented to prevent future natural disasters from damaging the subway.

There are currently 540 places in Lower Manhattan where water can get into the subway system, including stairways, ventilation grates, and emergency exits. The MTA recently tested a giant inflatable plug that was designed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They hope that the 30-foot inflatable plug could effectively seal off New York’s subways in the event of a natural disaster.

The MTA hopes to have this mechanism set in place by the end of the 2013 hurricane season. The city still needs billions to fix the damage sustained at the South Ferry station during hurricane Sandy. The MTA hopes the new inflatable plug can prevent such damages in the future. If a hurricane should happen in the meantime, they would have to use the previous system of sandbags and plywood.

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