Stevens will assist New Jersey Transit with storm-forecast and flood-warning predictions over the next 3½ years, the transit agency and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have announced.
NJ TRANSIT received $843,750 in federal support from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration for scientists and engineers at the Davidson Laboratory to create a system providing real-time information on the potential magnitude of flooding before and during surge events.
"My administration is dedicated to ending a cycle of storm-driven damage and repair," said Governor Christie. "Innovative projects like this help us get ahead of events and take steps to reduce or avoid impacts and that’s good stewardship of taxpayer assets and infrastructure."
The warning system will focus on the Hoboken Rail Terminal, NJ TRANSIT's second-largest passenger facility and the site of critical intermodal connections to and from Manhattan, as well as the Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny, the agency's largest rail equipment repair, parts and vehicle storage, and fueling facility.
The system will help inform the transit agency's emergency response planning in real time, including relocation of equipment from potential flood areas and traveler alerts on service status, drawing on Stevens' previous experience developing a regional Storm Surge Warning System that accurately forecast surge levels throughout the tri-state area before Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012.
"One area where the development of new and innovative technology can better prepare transit systems for extreme weather events is in the field of storm surge and flooding forecasting and observation," noted Stevens Professor Alan Blumberg, lead investigator for the project and director of the university's Davidson Laboratory. "Research at Stevens, as part of our Coastal Resilience Urban Excellence Initiative (CRUX), puts us in a unique position to do this type of work."
"This is a first-of-its-kind application of super high-resolution surge forecasting targeted to a transit system’s specific assets," added Michael Bruno, Dean of Stevens' Schaefer School of Engineering and Science.
Stevens research professors Nickitas Georgas and Thomas Herrington will also serve as key contributors of research to the effort.
"We’re pleased to be working with Stevens Institute of Technology to develop and implement this new warning system," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. "Working with a Hoboken-based university to protect the important and historic Hoboken Rail Terminal is a partnership focused on success."
Photo: Adam E. Moreira