The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has chosen a consultant to oversee the reconstruction of the 100-year-old L train tunnel, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The agency tapped JMT of NY Inc. to review construction timelines and safety and environmental concerns for the never-been-done-before project. After Gov. Andrew Cuomo intervened earlier this year, the MTA revised its original Carnasie Tunnel repair plan to not require the L train to shut down for 15 months, but instead have construction work take place on nights and weekends. But the $1.2 million contract–which must be approved by the MTA board next week–does not include a review of the feasibility of the updated L train plan before construction is set to begin on April 27.
“The board wanted an entity to review and see if this was a legitimate plan to move forward, not a project manager,” Veronica Vanterpool, an MTA board member, told WSJ.
The new plan calls for a new cable racking system on the exterior of the bench walls in the tunnel instead of within them, which is currently how it operates. According to university experts tapped by Cuomo who developed the plan, this new racking system would require less construction and less time, making it not necessary to totally shut down the tunnel.
Some board members have raised concerns over the possibility of silica dust, a hazardous carcinogen, being kicked up during construction work. Because repairs would take place on nights and weekends on one tube at a time, workers would have to work very quickly to clean any dust before rush hour service on Monday morning.
Andy Byford, the president of NYC Transit, said in January he would hire a consultancy to review the new plan and report to the board before construction began. But acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer quashed Byford’s suggestion and said he would oversee the hiring of the consultant instead.
“Let me be very clear, the intention of this consultant, which will report directly to the board, was always to review the efficacy of the transition from construction to train operation, construction timelines, safety and environmental considerations, and debris management and removal,” Ferrer said in a statement to WSJ.
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- Cuomo calls for last-minute halt of L train shutdown in favor of a new tunnel design