NEW YORK — Cars are back in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
More than two weeks after water gushed into the tunnel during Hurricane Sandy, one lane will reopen to passenger cars during morning and evening rush hour starting Tuesday at 4 p.m., officials announced.
"It's extremely important to the region," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. "It's extremely important to the city of New York."
The tunnel, which was recently renamed for former Gov. Hugh L. Carey, will have one lane for Manhattan-bound cars from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily and one lane for Brooklyn-bound cars from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.
Buses will continue using an additional lane in the tunnel during rush hour, officials said.
Buses and cars are both still restricted to one of the tunnel's two tubes, because the other tube is still damaged and will require another several weeks of repairs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
While announcing the tunnel's reopening to cars Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo recalled seeing the floodwaters pour into the tunnel's Lower Manhattan entrance at the height of the storm.
"It was a river," Cuomo said. "It was almost surreal. It was hard to even imagine what was happening."
Each of the tunnel's tubes filled with 43 million gallons of what officials in the governor's office described as "corrosive, debris-laden" seawater. The tunnel's electronic, ventilation and fire suppression systems all had to be repaired.
"There was nothing we could do about it," Cuomo said. "We were at the mercy of Mother Nature."