The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) has now installed approximately 7,500 sustainable composite ties in the St. George Staten Island Railway (SIR) terminal track renewal project to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The project started in September 2014 and is now 55 percent complete. Installation of the composite ties is expected to be finished by June 1.

The idea to use composites came from a recommendation made by the MTA’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Sustainability, which released a report seven years ago on how to operate a greener transit system throughout the New York area. The commission’s final report made nearly 100 recommendations to reduce the MTA’s carbon footprint while generating savings and economic growth, one of which included a recommendation that the MTA expand procurement of sustainable railroad ties across all rail agencies.

“With careful planning and foresight, we took this opportunity to not only make critical [Hurricane] Sandy-related repairs but to do it better using environmentally friendly materials,” said Doug Connett, vice president and chief officer for Staten Island Railway.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, NYCT needed a material that would not corrode like the St. George rails did after getting lambasted with saltwater during Hurricane Sandy.

To address both of those needs, NYCT used Axion International’s signature railroad ties, ECOTRAX®, which are made using an industrial grade, recycled structural composite (RSC) that is non-corrosive. The ties will not absorb moisture or leach toxic chemicals into the environment during a major flooding event similar to Sandy’s record storm surge. Axion International says the ties also offer a lower lifetime cost than traditional materials, and installing them does not require special tools or training.

The St. George terminal would not be the first use of composites to repair New York infrastructure since Hurricane Sandy. Back in 2013, the Federal Highway Administration specifically requested the use of composites to repair the Liberty Island dock (where the Statue of Liberty is). EIC Associates installed 198 corrosion resistant, glass fiber-reinforced pipes provided by Creative Pultrusions.

To see a video of the St. George terminal project, watch the video below: