L train service to be disrupted nights and weekends through March 18

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Despite all the cheering about the L train shutdown being averted, riders will be without service on most of the line on nights and weekends through the end of March.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced in an online advisory on Friday that unlike the revised L train plan, which will only be done on one tunnel at a time, the current project, which starts on Monday, January 28, will require a total shutdown of service between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Broadway Junction in Brooklyn. One reason given for the shutdown was that work is being done to repair the track (including removing and replacing all 16,000 feet of rails, plates and ties supporting the track) with specialized equipment that needs access to the full track. The other reason cited for the full shutdown has to do with where switches, which are also being worked on, are located.

“The tracks south of Bedford Ave. have an ‘interlocking plant,’ also known as a ‘double crossover,’ which is what allows us to switch trains from one track to another,” the MTA explained. “The switches and signals that form this interlocking are located on both tracks.”

The rest of the work includes:

Relocating and replacing cables

Rebuilding Bedford Ave. switches to be ready to support the one-track operation starting in April

Installing continuous welded rail at Bushwick-Aberdeen, between Jefferson and DeKalb, at Montrose and from Lorimer to Graham.

While the train isn’t running during the night during the workweek from 10:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., the MTA suggested using the M14 in Manhattan. Those traveling between Brooklyn and Manhattan are advised to take the A, F, J or M. In Brooklyn there are two shuttle buses along two routes between Bedford Avenue and Broadway Junction.

During weekends from February 1-March 18 (with an extra day for Presidents Day from February 15-19), those traveling between Manhattan and Brooklyn can take special weekend M service, A or C trains and free shuttle buses. M trains will operate to and from 96 St Q station in Manhattan. To connect with the A, C and M trains, as well as free shuttle buses for service in Brooklyn, customers can board at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenue and Broadway Junction stations. For travel in Brooklyn, the L will operate between Broadway Junction and Canarsie Rockaway Parkway. There will also be three shuttle bus routes making stops at all L stations between Bedford Avenue and Myrtle-Wyckoff:

  1. Between Broadway Junction A, C, J and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenue M
  2. Between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenue M and Lorimer Street (Metropolitan Avenue G).
  3. Loop bus stopping at Marcy Avenue J/M, Hewes Street J/M, Broadway G, Lorimer Street (Metropolitan Avenue G) and Bedford Avenue.

In Manhattan, there will be additional M14A bus service.

The MTA also advised straphangers to check for updates on the MYmta app.

Meanwhile, a Town & Village reader called this office to express his suspicions about the air quality currently in the L train station. After taking a quick ride from the First Avenue station, the heart of the L Manhattan construction zone, to Union Square at around 10:30 on Monday morning, the reader said he was left with a hacking cough.

“The train came in a cloud of dust; the headlights were shining on it,” he said, adding that he was left coughing for 40 minutes after this. Asked what finally made it stop, he said it was “breathing fresh air,” which the Stuyvesant Town straphanger finally found above-ground at Union Square.

Danny Pearlstein, a spokesperson for the Riders Alliance, said there has been an unusually high amount of service disruptions on the L, although at the same time, it’s not really when taking the damage caused by Sandy into consideration.

“The A train was closed for 40 weekends and the R train was closed for over a year,” said Pearlstein.

The L train was also shut down on weekends during the fall for work leading up to the shutdown that is now not to be.

In its advisory, the MTA said this work was part of “longterm reliability improvement” efforts it had originally planned. But Pearlstein said he wondered if the work relates to the alternative plan.

“Is this to firm up the new plan, to figure out what needs to be done for studies to make it work?” he asked.

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