MTA New York City Transit announced four locations under elevated structures in the subway system will have netting installed for a pilot program to test whether and how the material may capture potential hazards, such as loose debris, while still allowing regular inspections of the structure.
“We take reports of fallen debris from our elevated structures very seriously because the condition of these structures is critical to safe train service and the safety of our neighbors,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford.
Several NYC Transit subway lines operate on elevated structures for some of their routes throughout the system, partly due to the hard bedrock upon which New York City was built. These structures were built more than a century ago and remain safe for train operation, but due to their exterior locations, they are subject to extreme weather conditions and over-height vehicle strikes that can damage the steel structure, tracks and sensitive operating equipment such as signals. To ensure safe operating conditions, NYC Transit conducts regular track inspections weekly, as well as visual inspections of tracks from the street level monthly and comprehensive visual inspections of the steel structures annually.
NYC Transit engineers chose four locations for the netting pilot based on the results of these inspections, identifying two-century-old elevated stations and two sections of elevated tracks on curves, which endure higher levels of stress and wear-and-tear from trains. The netting will be approximately 600 feet long and 50 feet wide, for a total of 30,000 square feet of coverage at each location. The netting is designed to capture items as small as a three-quarter inch bolt while retaining enough transparency to allow regular visual inspections of the elevated tracks – a key requirement to prevent this solution from introducing a new safety challenge or risk. Altogether, the netting pilot will provide approximately 120,000 square feet of coverage at the four locations.
A $2 million contract for the netting on the Flushing (7) line and Jamaica (J & Z) line locations was awarded on July 5 to FOS. A second contract for approximately $2.6 million will be awarded at a later date, with installation scheduled to begin later this summer.