In what officials say will be one of the biggest disruptions ever to the city’s transit system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to close a tunnel carrying the L train under the East River for 18 months starting in 2019.
The move, expected to be announced Monday, has been in the works ever since the MTA decided to repair the tunnel that was seriously damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The MTA had considered two plans to repair the tunnel, and ultimately chose to go with the 18-month shutdown over an alternative proposal that would have seen a partial shutdown over a three-year period that slashed service by 80 percent.
Since authorities first floated the idea about six months ago, the MTA has held a series of public meetings, and officials have favored the shorter, full shutdown.
A survey by the transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance found that 77 percent of respondents favored the 18-month plan.
“It really came down to our wanting to pick an option that minimized inconvenience to the customer,” Veronique Hakim, president of New York City Transit, said during an interview with the newspaper Friday.
“This is the, ‘Get in, get done, get out,’ option,” she added.
Meanwhile, commercial and residential brokers in Brooklyn have been bracing for news about how long service will be shut down to fully evaluate the impact on the borough’s real estate scene.
During the repairs, L trains will continue to run in Brooklyn between Williamsburg and Canarsie. But all five Manhattan stops will close, and trains will not run between 8th Avenue and the Bedford Avenue stop in Brooklyn.
Some 225,000 straphangers ride the L train across the river between Brooklyn and Manhattan each day. In order to alleviate the disruption, officials are considering adding extra subway service on nearby lines and a new bus and ferry service. Another option is to add cars to trains like the G line.
The repairs could cost as much as $800 million, with the federal government expected to foot a large part of the bill, officials told the Times. [NYT] – Rich Bockmann