By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Residents affected by the imminent L train closure got a visit from New York City Transit officials last Wednesday in a meeting organized by Community Board 3 and 6, held at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.
At the meeting, NYC Transit reps promised a beefed up bus fleet around Stuyvesant Town to deal with the planned L train shutdown.
Agency Operations Planning Chief Peter Cafiero said, “If there is no service in Manhattan, then we need to build up the bus fleet. We could be implementing what I’m calling the M14 SBS. It would serve Stuyvesant Town more directly by looping up to East 20th Street.”
This was the second of what the agency has said would be a number of meetings to both get feedback and inform the community about the planned shutdown, which won’t start until 2019. The agency also said at this recent meeting that they will be hosting a meeting some time in the fall just for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents.
The agency is considering two plans to complete the work on the Canarsie tunnel that serves the L train. One proposal would affect service for 18 months and would close both tracks going into Manhattan, and would mean that there would be no L train service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue. The second option would take 36 months and would keep one of the tracks open throughout the work, but this plan would severely limit service and would require the train to run in two sections.
Lois Tendler, vice president of Government and Community Relations at New York City Transit, said at the meeting that NYCT hopes to decide on a plan by the end of the summer.
Meanwhile, despite the hassle of the closure, Stuyvesant Town and East Village residents will have something to look forward to once the work is complete: a new entrance for the train at Avenue A. Renderings were shown at the meeting.
Residents, however, expressed concern about the amount of construction already happening on this particular stretch of East 14th Street, especially since the work on the new entrance is expected to begin before the 2019 start date for the closure. In response, Tendler said that there would be coordination with the Department of Transportation and NYCT will get input from the community about the plans.
One recurring question that NYCT officials have addressed during discussions about the closure is the possibility of doing the work on the weekend like the MTA commonly does on most subway lines. Cafiero reiterated at this meeting that the work is too extensive to be able to reopen the tubes quickly for the work that has to be done.
“In addition to the rubble that has to be cleared, the signals would have to be restored,” he said. “It really means that we wouldn’t be able to reopen until Wednesday or Thursday so the bulk of the work has to be done during a full closure.”
Another major problem, specifically with the first proposal, is the lack of service in Manhattan but Cafiero said that trains would be isolated in Manhattan if they continued running.
“They would be cut off from the rest of the system if they needed to be repaired,” he said. “We can’t put the trains on trucks and they’d be trapped in there.”
Also weighing in the project was Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Maloney, who stopped by the meeting, said that after attending previous meetings on the proposed closure already, she’s learned the consensus in the community is that the 18-month plan is the better option.
“Eighteen months is better than three years,” she said. “The Federal Transit Administration doesn’t think the MTA will meet the deadline but I’m betting on the home team, that they’ll get it done.”