It was the final journey for 50 former New York City Redbird subway cars.
Stripped of doors, windows, electrical wiring and chassis, they were sent on a 70-foot voyage to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. There, nearly 14 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, they arrived at their final destination March 11.
They will now help to create memories for those who fish and scuba dive as part of the Tower Reef, named for its proximity to the Chesapeake Light Tower. Within the next couple of months, schools of fish and a wide variety of other sea creatures will make the cars their home.
The subway cars join old tanks, Liberty ships, a 100-foot trawler, tons of concrete structures—even a missile launcher—as the latest reef-building material.
The cars were all pushed by a crane off the side of the huge Weeks Marine barge that had brought them south from New York.
Bobbing for seconds in the 3– to 5-foot swells, the cars puffed one last blast of brown dirt as they vanished below the surface.
The 50 steel and aluminum cars were the third of three shipments the New York City Transit agency has given to the Virginia Artificial Reef Program. A division of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the reef program builds and maintains structures throughout the Chesapeake Bay and along the Virginia coast.
So far, the program has spent nearly $7,000 sinking 150 cars on three sites.
Two shipments of subway cars were placed earlier this year at the Blackfish Bank and Parramore reef sites off the coast of Chincoteague and Wachapreague, respectively, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Should more cars become available, Virginia wants them.
“They are perfect reef material, and we will take all we can get,” said program coordinator Mike Meier.
“The transit authority made us a beautiful deal,” Meier said. “Their cleaning protocol was so well done, and they are ready to become reefs. There are no environmental issues.”