Update 7:15 p.m.: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it will close John F. Kennedy International Airport to incoming international flights, beginning noon Saturday, to avoid stranding passengers when the region’s mass-transit systems services are suspended due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene. Many other weekend flights already have been canceled at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports, so travelers are urged to contact their carriers prior to leaving for the airport.
Also, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transit Authority is adding the Throgs Neck and the Bronx-Whitestone bridges to the list of bridges with toll suspensions. Earlier, Cuomo announced that in order to facilitate the mandatory evacuation of residents living in low-lying Zone A areas and the Rockaways, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will suspend certain fares and tolls. Tolls are already suspended at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
Starting at 8:00 p.m. today, the following changes will go into effect:
- Tolls will be suspended on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
- Fares will be suspended on buses throughout the city.
- Fares will be suspended for subway and rail passengers at stations in the mandatory evacuation area.
Update 4 p.m.: The state Thruway Authority sent out an alert telling motorists to expect road and bridge closures in New York City and the Hudson Valley during Hurricane Irene. These closures may include I-87 and the state Thruway between New York and Albany, including the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Update 3:20 p.m.: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that New Jersey Transit, ACES and Meadowlands service will be suspended at noon Saturday. Rail service will also be suspended.
Update 3 p.m.: The Metropolitan Transit Authority will institute a system-wide shut-down when trains and buses begin their final runs starting at approximately noon on Saturday. The shut-down will include subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and Access-A-Ride.
Update 2 p.m.: Westchester County Airport has just announced that all incoming and outgoing commercial flights will be cancelled as of 6 p.m. Saturday. Flights are expected to resume at about 3 p.m. Monday. Passengers should contact their respective airlines for further information.
As Hurricane Irene looms closer, transportation agencies have already begun updating their plans for the weekend.
Here’s a list of the latest travel updates. Check back at Patch.com for more updates as they become available:
The Metropolitan Transit Authority issued a statement warning its customers that there could be full or partial shutdowns to services due to Hurricane Irene.
There will be a complete shutdown of service subways, trains and buses when sustained winds reach at least 39 mph.
“Because of the severity of the wind and rain associated with a hurricane, there may be partial or full shut down of our services to ensure the safety of our customers and employees,” the statement reads.
Customers are urged to check mta.info frequently and to consider possible storm impacts when making travel plans this weekend.
New York/New Jersey Port Authority
- Airports have stocked up on hundreds of cases of bottled water, diapers, cots, blankets and pillows to provide to stranded passengers if necessary. Also, at least one food vendor in every passenger terminal will remain open 24 hours so that food is available at any time of day or night. Central office staff will also be deployed throughout the airports if, needed, to monitor conditions and assist with customer service personnel with helping customers find hotel rooms or ground transportation.
- Workers in the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department are reviewing high-wind procedures and readying for potential traffic restrictions on vehicles such as tractor-trailers, motorcycles, and car-pulled trailers. All sumps and drains are being checked and sump pits are being pumped down in anticipation of the forecasted heavy rainfall. Important infrastructure, including tunnel sump pumps and emergency generator systems, are being checked and readied.
- On the PATH interstate rail system, crews are prepared to combat potential flooding with sandbags and the use of pumps throughout the system, including the deployment of a 1,000-gallon-per-minute, trailer-mounted portable diesel pump that can be used inside PATH tunnels if necessary. Floodgates can be utilized if needed at Hoboken and Exchange Place stations. Portable pumps are being assembled with necessary hoses, and emergency generators are being checked and tested, among other PATH storm preparations.
- Staff in the Port Commerce Department have advised tenants to take necessary precautions, which includes placing sandbags at the base of cargo doors to minimize water intrusion, securing and covering cargo stored outdoors if it cannot be transferred to sheltered areas, and securing cranes, barges, warehouse doors and yard equipment.
- World Trade Center staff have notified contractors to secure construction sites and take precautionary measures including but not limited to tying down and securing material and loose debris at construction sites; covering electrical equipment; storing loose tools; and securing netting, scaffolding and sidewalk sheds. Engineers also are implementing plans to secure cranes against the hurricane, while crews also are prepared to use pumps, sandbags and other measures to stem flooding at the site.
Amtrak has already canceled most of its service operating south of Washington for today, Saturday and Sunday. Most trains on the Northeast Corridor have not been affected. In addition, other Amtrak services in North Carolina and in Virginia are currently operating as scheduled.
The following cancellations have been made today:
- Northeast Regional Trains 67 and 83 (Boston – Newport News) will terminate in Washington
The following cancellations have been made for today, Saturday and Sunday:
- Auto Train Trains 52 and 53 (Sanford, Fla. – Lorton, Va.)
- Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 (New York – Savannah)
- Silver Star Trains 91 and 92 (New York -Tampa – Miami), canceled New York to Jacksonville; train will operate between Jacksonville and Miami
- Silver Meteor Trains 97 and 98 (New York – Miami)
The following cancellations have been made for origination dates of Saturday:
- Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 (New York – Charlotte, N.C.)
Passengers are encouraged to call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for schedule information and train status updates.