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October 2003

Subway Cars Recycled as Artificial Reefs in New Jersey

Trenton, NJ— The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection dropped a fourth round of 50 subway cars at the Garden State North Reef Site for use in the state’s artificial reef program. The decommissioned subway cars are part of 250 acquired from the New York Transit Authority.

“Our artificial reef program provides tremendous benefits to fishermen, divers, and our shore economy,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “As a pilot project, research at reef sites that include these subway cars will enhance our understanding of marine ecosystems.”

Past studies of artificial reefs suggest that subway cars may be colonized by up to 200 species of fish and invertebrates. Reefs have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than open ocean. Artificial reefs can also form important nurseries for juvenile fish.

DEP deployed the first 50 subway cars at Cape May Reef on July 3, followed by 50 cars at Deep Water Reef off Ocean City on July 16 and 50 cars at the Atlantic City Reef on July 25. The remaining 50 subway cars will be allocated to the Shark River Reef off of Monmouth County.

The 1.1-square mile Garden State North Reef Site is approximately 6.5 miles offshore from Harvey Cedars in Ocean County and currently is comprised of almost 37,000 cubic yards of vessels, tanks, specially-designed “reef balls” and other materials.

Since 2001, NYTA’s artificial reef program has deployed over 1,000 decommissioned “Redbird” subway cars at reefs in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. NYTA bears all costs associated with cleaning the cars and transporting them to the reefs.

Each Redbird car is approximately 51 feet in length and nine feet in width and height. Prior to deployment, NYTA strips each car of all tanks, plastic, degradable materials, and grease to avoid contamination of the marine ecosystem.

DEP has formed an independent committee to oversee a multi-year monitoring program at the subway car sites that will study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs. The committee will convene early this fall for an initial review of the subway car deployment.

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