To mitigate the nightmare commuters will face during the 15-month L-train shutdown, the MTA and the Department of Transportation presented four possible alternatives that would make a portion of 14th Street a car-free busway. Streetsblog NYC reported that during a Manhattan Community Board 6 meeting on Monday, the agencies laid out the following options: a standard Select Bus Service (SBS) along 14th Street, enhanced SBS that includes turn and curb restrictions, a car-free busway in the middle lanes along 14th and a river-to-river car-free busway. Agency officials predict between 75 and 85 percent of the daily 275,000 daily L riders will use other subway lines, with bus service possibly absorbing between 5-15 percent of displaced trips.
L Train Shutdown
In response to the looming 15th-month L train shutdown, which will affect its nearly 225,000 daily riders beginning April 2019, real estate developers have started looking at Williamsburg’s hip and slightly cheaper neighbors, Greenpoint and South Williamsburg. Both areas sit nearby the G, J, M and Z trains, and in the past have offered a variety of housing options at cheaper prices. According to the New York Times, as developers begin their plunge into Greenpoint, sites along these train lines have become pricier and more difficult to lock down.
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Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has been trying to stay focused on grounded solutions–literally, as opposed to the tunnel and skyway ideas that are also being discussed–to mitigate the anticipated possible chaos when the dreaded 15-month L train shutdown hits. The organization is aiming for the ear of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the MTA which control street design and bus expansion, respectively. The group recently held an “L-ternative” contest seeking pedestrian-centered proposals for main transit corridors along the L line, such as 14th street, Gothamist reports. The winning proposal, called 14TH ST.OPS, imagines a (car) traffic-free 14th Street with a six-stop shuttle bus using dedicated lanes, plus protected bike lanes.
It’s official. The Metropolitan Transit Authority board voted to approve a 15-month shutdown of the L train on Monday, instead of the originally proposed 18 months. The Board also awarded a $477 million contract to Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, who will responsible for repairing the train’s Canarsie Tunnel, which suffered severe flooding damage after Hurricane Sandy (h/t WSJ). The planned shutdown is set to begin in April 2019 and cuts all L train service between Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
Finally, there’s some good news for the nearly 225,000 daily L train riders commuting to Manhattan. This weekend the Metropolitan Transit Authority announced that the Canarsie tube, which carries the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn, will be closed for 15 months instead of 18, three months ahead of schedule. As reported by the Daily News, the MTA plans to begin rehabilitating the tunnel in April of 2019.
A month ago, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, City Councilman Stephen Levin, and State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol drafted a letter to the Mayor, urging him to advocate for the East River Skyway as a solution for the impending L train shutdown. Building on this momentum, a digital petition addressed to de Blasio has launched on Change.org where the public can show their support for the plan, as well.
It looks like the East River Skyway is getting a big boost from local elected officials. Three politicians have jumped on the idea, including U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, City Councilman Stephen Levin, and State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. The trio together drafted a letter to Mayor de Blasio, encouraging him to back the transit initiative as a solution to impending L train closure. “This is the coolest thing we could do for the neighborhood,” Lentol, told DNA Info. “I don’t want to denigrate the BQX but this is even a greater plan to have a gondola going from Brooklyn to Manhattan forever.”
Transit advocacy groups and politicians who have been promoting the idea of ridding Manhattan’s 14th Street of private car traffic during planned L subway tunnel repairs, and only allowing bus, bike and pedestrian traffic, have also suggested that the no-auto plan would be good for Grand Street in Williamsburg, the New York Post reports. Grand Street is a major neighborhood thoroughfare similar to 14th Street, and advocates say giving the streets to bikes, pedestrians and shuttle buses would be one way to lessen the impact of the shutdown.
One of many ideas to mitigate the forthcoming L train shutdown in 2019 (in addition to others such as the East River Skyway, more bike lanes, and even an inflatable tunnel) is to shut down 14th Street to vehicular traffic and make it a bus-only zone. The idea was first presented in June by State Senator Brad Hoylman, and now he and a group of his government colleagues have won a request to the MTA for a traffic feasibility study of the proposal that they say will “relieve congestion and improve traffic flow.”
The city’s newly released, five-year transportation plan is all about the bikes. As part of his larger Vision Zero initiative, the Mayor announced yesterday that he’ll roll out 75 miles of new bike lanes by the end of this year, which includes 18 miles of protected lanes, reports Gothamist. They’ll be dispersed throughout the five boroughs, but centered in areas where the highest number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities occur.