Feb. 13, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
After weeks of questions and confusion, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released its highly anticipated L train shutdown mitigation plan.
The alternative plan, which MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim says will be “disruptive” to riders, lacks many of the mitigating elements initially anticipated during the full shutdown, as described in a joint plan by the MTA and Department of Transportation released late 2017.
Both agencies, in the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s surprise announcement last month that effectively cancelled the full 15-month shutdown to the Canarsie tunnel, did not immediately address what mitigation efforts, including new bus routes, bike lanes, bus-only lanes, and increased subway service on alternative lines, would stay in place.
With the release of the new plan, the answer is–not many.
Work on the new tunnel reconstruction plan will begin on the same date as previously set for the full shutdown—April 26. Beginning at 10 p.m. that evening, L trains going to and coming from Manhattan will run every 20 minutes.
This intermittent service will repeat every weeknight from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. and all weekend long for the ensuing 15 to 20 months. During these times, the L train will run in Brooklyn every 10 minutes.
The MTA is still promising increased subway service on the 7, M and G lines. The G train, however, will not be lengthened, as previously planned. The M will also be rerouted to run up to 96th Street in Manhattan.
In another striking change, the Williamsburg Bridge will not have an HOV policy as outlined in the prior mitigation plan, and several shuttles planned between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side have been scrapped. A bus, however, will run on a loop between Williamsburg L train stops and nearby J, G and M subway stations.
The MTA did not outline any plans for Grand Street, which many have raised concerns about due to the seemingly unfinished bike lane and other roadway work that have caused several accidents for cyclists and drivers alike.
In Manhattan, 14th Street, which was previously set to become a bus-only zone, will remain open to all vehicles. The M14 bus, however, will see increased service.
With the MTA anticipating the delays in service causing overcrowding on subway platforms, the transit authority is considering making the First and Third Avenue stations “exit only.”
There is still no concrete timeline for the tunnel’s reconstruction as of yet, however, the MTA estimates it should take no more than 20 months to complete.