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Latest quirky L train shutdown proposal is an East River pontoon bridge

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The bridge would take just six to eight months to construct with its cost “completely covered” by $1 tolls

Photos courtesy L-ternative Bridge.

As the impending L train shutdown, set to begin in April 2019, draws closer, service alternatives continue to roll in. Though the MTA and city officials released a shutdown plan in December, those details are still being fleshed out and are still a ways from being set in stone.

Transportation alternative ideas for the impending shutdown have ranged from a Williamsburg gondola to adding bus lanes on various bridges. The city has announced plans to increase service on the J/M/Z and G lines as well as create new bike lanes, pedestrian pathways, and ferry routes. However, transit advocates argue that the MTA can do more. New Yorker and real estate investor Parker Shinn thinks that an East River Pontoon Bridge could be the answer, reports Bedford and Bowery.

A pontoon bridge is a floating bridge of sorts that relies on anchors to keep them in place. Shinn believes that an L-ternative Bridge, as he calls it, could be a quick and inexpensive way to accommodate commuters.

According to his website for the proposal, L-ternative would have the ability to support two lanes for bus traffic and two walking/bike paths. It would be kept in place by using 3,500-pound anchors that would settle into the East River’s mud bottoms and the pontoon bridge would consists of 37 deck barges that each measure 90 feet long. Per Shinn, the bridge would only take six to eight months to construct and “the costs can be completely covered by a $1 toll.” The bridge would also feature a 240-foot drawbridge to allow ship traffic to pass through.

Shinn has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the idea and is hoping to raise $50,000. He acknowledges that the city and the MTA may not support his idea, but in the event that they do, supporters who donate to the Kickstarter campaign would be rewarded in toll tickets that match the amount of their donation (so, a $10 donation would allow you to cross the bridge ten times). “If the bridge is not built we will return all funds not directly spent on design, planning, and feasibility analysis (not including the commissions taken by Kickstarter),” says the campaign’s site.

L-ternative also proposes creating a partially enclosed bus terminal could be constructed on Seventh Street between Bedford and Driggs avenues “in order to move people as quickly as possible from the subway and into buses.” Additionally, it pitches building a temporary overpass above the FDR Drive to allow buses to pass without interrupting the flow of traffic.

During the 15-month shutdown, the MTA will repair the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel, which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan along the L line. The repairs will cost $477 million and should be complete in early 2020.