Lawsuit says L train neighbors on E. 14th St. are living in Hell

Construction site outside Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, another lawsuit aimed at stopping the L-pocalypse in its, well, tracks, was filed by attorney Arthur Schwartz, who said he is suing on behalf of two people living along the East 14th Street construction zone.

Schwartz, who had previously sued on behalf of residents on the west side of 14th Street, is now arguing people at the east end of East 14th Street are living in intolerable conditions due to noise and dust from the ongoing preliminary L train shutdown construction work.

“I wouldn’t want to live there,” he told Town & Village.

L train neighbors from Avenue A to B, the suit says, have “suffered physical injury to their damage to the sum of $250,000 each.” He also slammed the design of the planned 14th Street busway as “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Defendants are the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation Chair Polly Trottenberg.

Schwartz has already tried to get a judge to grant a temporary restraining order to stop the work, but was unsuccessful due to being unable to prove irreparable injury.

Attorney Arthur Schwartz previously sued on behalf of West 14th Street residents. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The things he is asking for include:

  • An EIS (environmental impact statement) to be drafted within 30 days of a public hearing
  • To stay any work except prep work within the tunnel, especially the creation of a truck entrance to the tunnel at Avenue A and construction of a substation at Avenue B and the mitigation plan
  • To remedy dust and noise problem on between A and B, which Schwartz said creates a “nuisance” and a “health detriment”
  • To stop continued construction and utilization of a construction vehicle entrance to the project in the vicinity of Avenue A and 14th Street which could potentially be used on a 24-hour basis without control over the noise level
  • And to stop construction of bikes lanes and sidewalk extensions.

Schwartz, a Greenwich Village resident, has stated he believes the situation as it stands will cause the dislocation of many L train riders, especially Williamsburg and Bushwick residents.

He also finds fault with how the MTA came up with estimates of how many people will be using alternative subway routes vs. buses.

In response to the suit, MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said the agency agreed with the judge’s decision to refuse a temporary restraining order.

“We’re grateful for the judge’s decision,” said Tarek, “and we look forward to continuing our partnership with NYCDOT, local communities, elected officials, businesses, residents and other stakeholders as we prepare for the monumental task of rebuilding the L train subway tunnel that was completely flooded and heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy.”

The DOT had a similar sentiment.

Agency spokesperson Alana Morales said, “DOT is grateful for the judge’s decision (on October 9). We look forward to continuing to work with the MTA, local communities, stakeholders and officials to closely coordinate our efforts for next year’s 2019 closure.”

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