The L train shutdown—sorry, “slowdown”— begins this week.
Let us repeat that: The L train “slowdown” begins this week. Starting at 8 p.m. on April 26, service on the L line will be “reduced” as the MTA begins the process of repairing the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
In the weeks leading up to the beginning of the repair work, the MTA has increased its outreach to commuters, posting explainer videos on YouTube and regularly updating its L train project website with planned service changes and other crucial information. But even though more information has become available, there are still unanswered questions about the repairs—including, crucially, how long it will take and how much the work will cost.
Here’s what we do—and don’t—know about the repairs, and what to expect in the next year or so.
How long will the repairs take? Anywhere from 15 to 20 months, but during its latest board meeting, the MTA said it would likely be closer to 15.
How much will the new method of repairing the tunnel cost? The MTA doesn’t have a specific figure for this yet, but the agency believes that it’ll be less than the $477 million that was estimated for the original scope of repairs.
Another thing to note: The MTA also has yet to approve all of the contracts needed for work to begin.
How safe is the MTA’s new method of repairing the Canarsie Tunnel? Mitigating the amount of silica dust and other hazardous materials that riders and workers are exposed to is a crucial part of the plan, according to the MTA. The agency says it will continuously monitor dust levels, and mitigation efforts include using HEPA tools and filtration units to capture and minimize dust exposure, as well as closing off work areas when a lot of dust will be kicked up.
Still, some MTA workers have said recently that these efforts are not enough—especially since the plan has not been vetted by an independent contractor, and the MTA has no plans to do so. “Without vetting the plan ahead of time, we can’t be sure it’s safe,” one subway operator recently told AM New York.
Are station improvements still happening? Yes. Elevators at First Avenue and Bedford Avenue should be installed by 2020, and new staircases at Bedford Avenue opened earlier this year.
What’s happening with the 14th Street busway? Unclear at this point. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference this week that the city would announce something related to buses along 14th Street “next week”—as in, the week the L train repairs begin—but we don’t know what that is yet.
What about 14th Street Select Bus Service? Also unclear, though AM New York reports that June is looking like the launch date. Some lawmakers want the MTA to put the brakes on proposed changes to M14A/D SBS in favor of a plan that would pair express service with a supplemental local route. Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, meanwhile, has called for implementing the SBS before the L train work begins.
Is Bushwick still getting new Citi Bike stations? That’s a go: A map on the DOT’s NYC bike share website shows a total of 25 new docking stations that will be installed throughout the neighborhood.
And Bushwick expansion continues! The following stations are now live:— Citi Bike (@CitiBikeNYC) April 19, 2019
- Powers St & Olive St
- McKibbin St & Bogart St
- Central Ave & Starr St
- Wyckoff Ave & Jefferson St
Check the Citi Bike map for all newly installed #Bushwick stations: https://t.co/MzTkWVSI47 pic.twitter.com/EzRSm2E46t
Is the protected bike lane on Grand Street still in the works? Work on this new bike pathway in Brooklyn began last year, but was not fully implemented at the point when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new plan for L train work. DOT did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed streetscape improvements as of press time.
New bike lanes along Delancey Street and 12th and 13th Streets in Manhattan are already completed.
Citi Bike said it would have more bike valets in Manhattan. Is that still happening? Yes, but details are scant at the moment.
Will Citi Bike’s e-bike expansion still happen? It’s unclear at this point when Citi Bike will have its pedal-assist bikes back on city streets, after pulling its entire fleet over safety concerns. Originally, it was due to expand the fleet to 4,000 e-bikes, but now, there’s no timeline for when that may happen.
Is everything going to be okay for L train riders? Fingers crossed.