By Sabina Mollot
While many of the details of the L train alternative repair project are still being decided, the MTA has committed to reducing the number of hours currently worked to six days a week at the East 14th Street construction zone.
Neighbors have said work often ends at 11 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, although the MTA has said it tries to stop any noisy work by 10 p.m. But on Tuesday night, the MTA’s chief development officer overseeing the project, Janno Lieber, committed to stopping work by 7 p.m. at a meeting held by Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to minimalize the impact of our work on neighbors, and they understandably have been asking for shorter hours,” Shams Tarek, a spokesperson for the MTA, told Town & Village.
Tarek added that the MTA wanted to first consult the contractor to make sure doing this wouldn’t lengthen the duration of the project, which includes the creation of an Avenue A entrance to the First Avenue L station. The new schedule of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday to Friday, with possibly shorter hours on Saturday is effective immediately.
Meanwhile, in another new development, Select Bus Service for the M14, which wasn’t going to be implemented until fall (months after the L repair related slowdown begins in late April), is now expected to start in June.
Council Member Keith Powers said he was informed of this on Tuesday, ahead of the CB3 meeting.
Powers for many months now has been pushing the MTA for details on the revised L train project while also asking, since the alternative plan was announced by Governor Cuomo in January, to give neighbors a break from the work at nights.
“We’d asked them to reconsider the hours of construction and (previously) they mentioned they wanted to (first) redo the contract to reflect the new plan,” said Powers. “As they were redoing the contract, it seems they heard the voices of the residents to do new hours. People are losing sleep and having a disrupted dinner over the construction outside.”
As for other ongoing L train-related concerns like the possibility of exit-only stations at First and Third Avenues, the MTA has still neither confirmed nor ruled this out. Another ongoing resident complaint is the overall chaotic looking scene at the construction zone, with its barriers, trucks and heavy equipment everywhere. Powers said from what he has heard, this is not likely to change any time soon, though he has asked the agency to reduce the work site “footprint.”
However, the Council member noted, there have been some improvements to neighbors’ quality of life, including switching lights at the site from gas to electric, because the electric ones are less noisy and the MTA has also committed to no longer cart out hazardous material from the tunnels at 14th Street. The MTA has also used light bafflers to direct work lights away from apartment windows and gotten white noise reverse alarms for trucks instead of the usual beeping sounds.