By Jonathan Sperling
Queens commuters taking the E and M trains will be subjected to nearly a week of subway service interruptions, as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) attempts to renovate the 53rd Street Tunnel between Queens Plaza and Manhattan.
Beginning at 4:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, and until 5 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, the following changes will be in effect, according to the MTA:
Between Queens and Manhattan, E trains will be rerouted along the F line between Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue and West 4th Street, where they will continue on their regular the to World Trade Center.
M trains will operate between Metropolitan Avenue and Chambers Street Customers traveling to and from Forest Hills-71st Avenue may take the E/F/R. Customers traveling to and from Brooklyn may transfer from the F line to the J.
There will be no subway service at Lexington Avenue/53rd Street E/M and 5 Avenue/53 Street E/M. For 5 Avenue/53 Street, customers can use the nearby 47-50 Streets/Rockefeller Center station, and customers going to the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street station can take the No. 6 to 51st Street.
“This intensive work in the under-river tunnel requires workers to have full access to the tracks, but it’s critical for daily reliability and for upgrading the decades-old signals to the latest modern system,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement. “We thank our customers for their patience – this work will result in more reliable trips for everyone who uses the E/F/M or R lines.”
For straphangers needing to travel to and from the city’s airports during that time, the MTA recommends taking the No. 7/E/F/R to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue for the Q70 LaGuardia Link bus to LaGuardia Airport, or the A train to Howard Beach-JFK for the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
F trains will continue to stop at Queens Plaza, except overnights, when free shuttle buses will provide service by making stops at 21st Street-Queensbridge, Court Square and Queens Plaza.
The MTA promises that the service interruption will ultimately benefit Queens’ commuters, as “crews will be installing rails, plates, tie blocks and track ties, performing preventive switch maintenance, and upgrading communications, signals and electrical infrastructure, such as installing communications and power cables.”
The maintenance is scheduled to install communications-based train control — better known as CBTC — along the E/F/M/R lines.
CBTC allows the MTA to run trains closer together, making service more frequent and reducing overcrowding.
The upcoming construction is the next phase in the CBTC installation along the E/F/M/R lines from the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike station to the 47-50th Streets/Rockefeller Center station in Manhattan.