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New L train shutdown plan could still be ‘disruptive,’ MTA says

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The un-shutdown will still begin on April 27, but much else has changed


The L train shutdown may not be proceeding as previously planned, but as the MTA plans to implement scaled-back repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, it’s finally releasing more details about what those could look like.

According to the MTA, the un-shutdown is still expected to begin on April 27, but the way work will be carried out—and the way the city will cope with service changes—will look very different. Under the “new and innovative” plan that may end up being steamrolled into place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the MTA’s Capital Construction division would oversee repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged after Hurricane Sandy. Those repairs would use a different way of fixing cables, which would keep the tunnel’s capabilities intact.

But there will still need to be some closures along the L line, since the MTA plans to implement repairs in one tube at a time. The one that will likely have the biggest impact: On weekdays, fewer L trains will begin running at 8 p.m., with the tube impacted closing at 10 p.m. There will also be 20-minute headways for trains overnight on weekdays and weekends.

According to AMNY, MTA managing director Ronnie Hakim said earlier today, “We’ll be able to maintain service, but it will be a disruptive service on the L.”

Some other details:

  • There will be additional G, 7, and M train service—including M service into Manhattan up to the 96th Street stop on the Second Avenue subway—but G trains will not be lengthened.
  • The 14th Street “busway” may not happen, but there will be additional buses on 14th Street. Eventually—although not in time for the start of repair work—it’ll become an SBS route.
  • The HOV lane that had been proposed on the Williamsburg Bridge to alleviate traffic for buses is also likely not happening.

The agency also has not ruled out making some high-traffic stations, like First and Third avenues, exit-only to deal with crowding, although it is an option that they are hoping to avoid. This reflects previously-reported draft plans that had circulated in January, and which the MTA had initially disputed. (It also means that commuters will likely experience many headaches as the result of the new plan.)

As of right now, there is no firm timeline for how long the repairs may take, though the MTA said it was hoping for 15 to 20 months. Under the original shutdown plan, repairs would have been finished in 15 months. The MTA also revealed that an independent consultant to evaluate the alternative plan proposed by Cuomo’s team of experts has yet to be hired. Other issues raised at an MTA board meeting last month—such as the total cost of repairs, and whether or not the new plan would require board approval—are still being hammered out. The agency also stated that it will hold public meetings for feedback prior to the start of the repair work.