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New York City subways, bridges, tunnels unaffected by earthquake, MTA says

NYC infrastructure, transit systems inspected following earthquake
NYC infrastructure, transit systems inspected following earthquake 02:17

NEW YORK -- Moments after Friday's earthquake, New York state and city structural engineers fanned out to inspect infrastructure and transit systems.

There were temporary closures and delays while roads, airports, tunnels and bridges were checked out.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber says it's safe to ride even through a small earthquake, explaining New York City's subway system remained fully functional during the 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

"The service on the transit system, all aspects of the transit system, maintained continuously operating safely throughout," Lieber said.

Lieber went on to tout the Transit Authority's emergency response skills, saying initial inspections show there's no damage to any of its infrastructures and its bridges are built to handle this.

"Seven bridges operated by MTA have been inspected, and I want to emphasis those were designed to withstand much stronger systemic impacts that we experienced today," Lieber said.

Transit officials tell us, they're still monitoring the situation, but besides checking on subway tunnels and bridges, they dispatched emergency inspectors to its vehicle tunnels.

"They were dispatched within about five minutes of the earthquake occurring. All the preliminary results came back negative," said Kathy Sheriden, president of bridges and tunnels. "Tunnels are very resilient for seismic impacts, so they move with the ground."

While the city does a more extensive inspection, experts say an initial visual inspection is a sufficient way to ensure structures are safe.

"They're going to be looking for the pretty obvious visual signs -- cracking, debris, any kind of bending, sagging, change in shape," said Michael Shenoda, assistant professor of civil engineering technology at Farmingdale State College.

Shenoda says bridges and tunnels are designed to a higher standard than most buildings and homes.

He adds, however, "The design is going to vary based on the likelihood of an earthquake in that area. So bridges in California are going to be designed differently in terms of withstanding an earthquake than here."

Experts say if you were actually driving over a bridge during the earthquake, you may not have even noticed it because bridges are designed to be flexible.

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