By Jonathan Sperling
In the wake of the surprise cancellation of the long-feared L train shutdown, the Metropolitan Transit Authority again promised on Thursday that service on the line between Manhattan Brooklyn “would be scheduled 24/7.”
The MTA confirmed in a statement that “the total shutdown of both tunnels and all service scheduled for April 27 will not be necessary,” though the agency anticipates “a shutdown of one tube on nights and weekends,” referring to the Canarsie Tunnel, named for its terminal stop in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
The tunnel, which connects hundreds of thousands of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan commuters, was flooded with saltwater as a result of Superstorm Sandy, causing corrosion of cabling, power and track equipment.
The previously scheduled construction on the tunnel would have crippled the L train for approximately 15 months, impacting tens of thousands of riders along the Queens-Brooklyn border, at stops such as Dekalb Avenue, Halsey Street and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues, among others.
On Jan. 3, however, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shocked commuters by revealing that the shutdown of L train subway service would not be happening as originally planned.
“The simple fact is you have roughly 250,000 people who would need another way to get to work [and] a tremendous impact on traffic,” Cuomo said during a conference announcing the cancellation of the full shutdown. “Fifteen months sounds like a really short period of time, but it’s not if you’re doing it one day at a time trying to get to work.
The MTA confirmed in its statement that in 2018, a design team made up of “international experts” reviewed the former shutdown plan. The team proposed the use of new construction alternatives and technology that have been utilized effectively in other countries, though several of the alternatives had never been used by the MTA.
Included in the alternatives is laser light technology to determine structural defects, smart fiber optic sensor technology, and carbon fiber wrapping, which reinforces components.
“The design firm managing the L train project from the beginning has been Parsons Brinckerhoff (now called WSP),” the MTA said in a statement. “WSP has done extensive work studying the new design alternatives and has informed the MTA (and discussed at a public meeting on January 15) that the proposed construction design alternatives are indeed applicable to the L train and can significantly reduce construction time and thus the inconvenience to our riders.”
Still, the MTA estimates that the new construction plan will impact L train service for approximately 15-20 months, a fact that has left some commuters wary.
“The new repairs are gonna take longer than the old ones, so rather than no L train for like 15 months I guess it's night/weekend delays for over 20 months,” Julian Tineo, a Bushwick resident who takes the L train from Dekalb Avenue, told the Eagle. “That's not ideal but I'm much happier with that as opposed to nothing”