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L train repair costs may spike thanks to MTA’s about-face

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The abrupt change of plans from shutdown to ‘slowdown’ may increase costs for structural repairs on L train stations

In January, plans for a full L train shutdown to rehabilitate the Canarsie Tunnel were called off by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, just four months before they were supposed to start. Instead, the L train service was slowed down and service changes on nights and weekends began in April and will go through next summer.

While the Canarsie Tunnel repairs have already started, structural construction work planned for several L train stations has been delayed, and costs are projected to increase, following the January change of plans from full shutdown to slowdown, The City reports.

The price for those structural repairs—which include fixing beams and braces, leaks, and concrete defects in five L train Manhattan stations on 14th Street—could double from $43.8 to 77.8 million, according to MTA documents. But according to the MTA, under the full L train shutdown, those repairs would have already started, as they would have been included in the Canarsie Tunnel rehabilitation project.

MTA documents show that a bid scheduled initially for May 2019 was postponed to January 2020, to “re-examine” the scope of work following the change of plans. But an MTA spokesperson told Curbed that those numbers are a premature placeholder which don’t reflect what the project—which was budgeted separately from the Canarsie Tunnel rehabilitation—would cost, as the contractor for the work hasn’t been selected.

“This item was included prematurely, and is unrelated to the rehabilitation of the Canarsie tunnel, which remains on time and on budget and has prevented massive inconvenience for over 275,000 customers,” MTA spokesperson Tim Minton told Curbed in a statement.

“While the scope of this work is being developed, it will be scheduled in a way to minimize any disruption to our customers—unlike the original L train approach which would have shut the entire line down for 18 months,” Minton added.

According to The City, those repairs will likely impact subway riders but it is unclear when they are supposed to start.