OCEAN CITY – Less than two months after the last batch of retired New York City subway cars were dropped on Ocean City’s growing artificial reef system, another batch could be deployed off the coast of the resort as early as next week.
Ocean City Reef Foundation officials this week said the Maryland’s turn in the multi-state rotation came up sooner than expected this time around, but the organization had the funding and a plan in place to secure the newest batch of subway cars. The 42 cars were expected to be loaded onto barges in New York late this week, weather permitting, with an expected deployment off the coast of Ocean City as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
The batch of 42 new cars set to arrive in Ocean City next week is the third installment of retired New York City subway cars expected to be deployed off the coast of Ocean City under the direction of the Ocean City Reef Foundation along with its partners the Maryland Artificial Reef Foundation (MARI), the town of Ocean City, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and New York City Transit.
The Ocean City Reef Foundation started raising funds for the project a year ago when it learned as many as 600 of the retired subway cars would become available for the artificial reef system off the coast of Maryland. The fundraising effort got a major jumpstart with a $50,000 private donation from fishing enthusiasts Jack and Susan Power, whose generous gift was used to fund the first barge containing 44 of the cars last May. Those cars were lowered on a permitted site near the famous “Jackspot” about 19 miles offshore to become a new artificial reef called the Susan J. Power Reef in honor of its donor.
A second batch of 46 retired subway cars was deployed on the Bass Grounds artificial reef site on Nov. 27. The original plan for the second batch was a site near Russell’s Reef farther offshore, but weather conditions forced a change in plans and the Bass Grounds, which are closer to shore, were chosen instead. The third batch of 42 cars expected to arrive off the coast of the resort early next week will also be deployed in the same area, filling in blank spots along the vast area of ocean floor permitted for artificial reef material.
“They’re going to go straight out to the Bass Grounds,” said Ocean City Reef Foundation Director Greg Hall this week. “With the weather and everything else, it makes perfect sense to deploy this batch at the Bass Grounds and the Isle of Wight Research Reef, which are the closest permitted sites off Ocean City. Because they are so close, they are perfect for the smaller boats that can reach them easier and faster.”
Funds for the third batch of 42 cars expected to arrive next week came largely from private donations including another influx of money from the Powers, according to Hall. At an estimated cost of around $700 per car, the barge-load of 42 cars heading to the resort will come in around $30,000. When the project reaches fruition, as many as 600 retired subway cars could find their way to the bottom of the ocean off the coast of the resort.
Maryland is in a rotation with several other mid-Atlantic states as recipients of the retired subway cars along with Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia, which received its latest installment in December. Because of the vast amount of space needed to prepare and store the cars on a site near the New York harbor, the process has been expedited in recent months, which is why Ocean City’s turn came up so fast this time around, according to Hall.
“They are really speeding up the process of cleaning them and preparing them for deployment because they need the space,” he said. “As you can imagine, space is at a premium in New York and they are really working to keep them moving. We could be back in line for another batch as soon as this spring.”