Metro officials said Friday they are preparing for Hurricane Irene as it is expected to hit the region this weekend.

Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman, said the trains will be running their normal weekend hours. Originally the rail system was expected to open at 5 a.m. Sunday to get people to the Martin Luther King Jr. dedication ceremony. But after that was canceled, Metro adjusted its plans.

Stessel said there will be no weekend track work with the storm approaching.

Metro is taking steps to prepare its system for the storm by putting sandbags at stations that tend to have water run down their escalators and flood the station. Drainage pipes and pumping stations are being checked and extra personnel will be on hand to deal with signal crossings, power issues and other issues that may arise, he said.

At this point, Stessel said, the agency has no plans to shut down the rail. New York City will shut down its mass-transit system on Saturday at noon, closing the subway, buses and comuter railroads.

Stessel said additional Metro Transit Police were expected to be on hand for the MLK ceremony and that those staffing levels have not been reduced at this time.

On Friday afternoon, Stessel said that based on current forecasts, Metro does not expect above ground rail service to be suspended “unless conditions end up being worse than expected.” If that changes, updates will be posted on

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