First Subway Cars Headed For Reef

OCEAN CITY – The first batch of retired New York City “Red Bird” subway cars will find a permanent home off the coast of Ocean City next week, weather permitting, when 42 of the cars will be unloaded over the famous “Jackspot” about 19 miles offshore on Tuesday morning.

A barge carrying 42 of the retired subway cars from New York City is expected to reach the Jackspot around 10 a.m. on Tuesday where it will rendezvous with the local and state artificial reef foundation officials who will direct the deployment. The first batch of 42 cars was funded by a private citizen, fishing enthusiast and charter captain Jack Power, who donated around $25,000 and will be on hand to witness their placement on the growing artificial reef system off the coast of the resort.

The Ocean City Reef Foundation, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is in the process of acquiring as many as 630 of the recently retired New York City subway dating back to the 1960s. The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is making available 1,600 of the subway cars for artificial reef systems in coastal states throughout the mid-Atlantic.

The local plan calls for acquiring 630 of the subway cars for the artificial reef system off the coast of Ocean City over the next three years as funding becomes available. The cars will be delivered to the reef sites by barge with about 40 cars on each barge. Because of the distance they must be transported, the cost is coming in at around $600 per car, which is a significant undertaking for the local reef program and will amount to more than it has raised and spent in the 10 years of its existence when the project reaches fruition.

Ocean City Reef Foundation director Greg Hall said this week the subway cars headed for the Jackspot would likely be just the first of hundreds that could ultimately find their way to the bottom of the sea off the coast of the resort. Through its fundraising efforts and private donations, the foundation is well on its way to financing the purchase of the next batch. Hall is confident the program will be able to meet the goals.

“We’ve got a couple more paid for and we’re well on our way to a second barge-load,” he said. “I don’t know how many we’ll end up with, but we’re trying to raise funds for as many as we can get.”

Hall said he recently inspected many of the cars destined for artificial reef sites off the coast and voiced no environmental concerns.

“They’ve done a great job with them,” he said. “They’re clean as a whistle and some of them have only come off the tracks as recently as a couple of weeks ago.”