The MTA plans to announce today that the long-dreaded L train shutdown for repairs needed on the Canarsie tunnel that runs beneath the East River will commence in 2019 and take the line out of service from Manhattan to the Bedford Avenue station in Brooklyn for 18 months, as reported by the New York Times. The 18-month option was the expected choice, the alternative being a partial three-year shutdown that would give about one in five passengers service to Manhattan (20 percent of current service). The agency needs to do major repairs on damage done by the 2012 superstorm Sandy, and while the tunnel is “not in grave danger of collapse,” according to the MTA, it can’t go untreated. As 6sqft previously reported, night and weekend service is off the table because of the amount of work that needs to be done, and building a third tube would be time- and cost-prohibitive.
Amid fears of an impact on local businesses or a dip in real estate values along the L line, elected officials pushed for alternative travel options wherever possible. The MTA is considering beefing up service on the G, J and M lines, offering shuttle buses over the Williamsburg Bridge and adding more buses to the already existing route.
When the impending shutdown was first announced early this year, several community meetings on the topic revealed concerns over a lack of transparency from the MTA and fear of the impact the service interruption would have. Last January an MTA representative was asked to leave a Town Hall meeting on the subject by angry business owners and advocacy groups for not being able to provide enough information on when, and for how long, the north Brooklyn subway line would be out of commission.
The MTA anticipates that the reconstruction will be among the largest disruptions in the agency’s history. The shutdown will affect neighborhoods already strained under current public transportation options. According to MTA data, ridership has tripled since 1990. Currently, over 225,000 riders travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan daily, and an additional 50,000 use the L to travel within Manhattan.
New York City Transit (the agency that runs the city’s subways and buses, part of the MTA) president Veronique Hakim said officials hope the repairs will get done as quickly as possible for the least possible impact on riders. “It really came down to our wanting to pick an option that minimized inconvenience to the customer,” Ms. Hakim said Friday in an interview. “This is the, ‘Get in, get done, get out,’ option.”
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