By Maria Rocha-Buschel
East Side residents may soon be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the L project—or at least across East 14th Street. The MTA noted in a newsletter sent out on Saturday that street restoration began on the Manhattan side for the L project over the weekend, meaning that construction crews would begin packing up and restoring a section of the street and sidewalk, clearing up some of the above-ground construction at the site in front of the Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town.
The construction management team working on the project said that street restoration means that the crew will reconstruct the street, sidewalk paving and trees back to the way it was before the project began.
“The biggest task is rebuilding the street itself,” the team said in the newsletter. “We’ll be doing that work ourselves, following very specific rules from the city [Department of Transportation].”
The process of street restoration includes multiple steps, beginning with dumping in backfill that is compressed with a heavy vibrating roller and tamping machines, followed by a base of concrete. An asphalt spreader will then move down the street with crews following to rake the asphalt even and to minimize traffic disruptions, this work is done at night.
The crews will also be replanting trees that needed to be removed during the work, which were directly on top of the area where construction was ongoing. The construction management team noted that they were able to protect most of the trees but that the ones removed during construction will now be replaced.
Crews will also be pouring concrete around the new elevators that have been installed and on sidewalk ramps for ADA-compliant accessibility. The original sidewalks on the street were constructed with Belgian block, a frequent material for New York City sidewalks, and those blocks were actually removed and saved at the beginning of the project for proper restoration so they could be reinstalled at the end.
“We’ll have a team of masons who lay down a bed of sand, then set the stones,” construction management said. “It’s really a craft, the same way it was done in the nineteenth century.”
Crews were spotted removing barriers on the north side of East 14th Street from around a newly-asphalted island earlier this week on Tuesday morning.
The MTA confirmed on Wednesday that work to restore the island in front of Associated had begun last Friday. The barricades are being removed from that area and the work zone will return to the site to do final finishes, which includes completing the curb, street and sidewalks.
Following the completion of this work, the work area at the southwest corner of East 14th Street and Avenue A will begin to be dismantled, which began this week. Restoration work on this corner includes redoing the sidewalk there, in addition to the curbs and streets.
Most of this work will be completed during regular working hours, except for the milling and paving work to restore the road, which will occur during off-peak hours, per city DOT rules.
Additional details about timing will be released when the work is scheduled.
The newsletter also noted that a full schedule for the Manhattan side would be forthcoming and similar work would begin soon on the Brooklyn side of the project as well.
The newsletter also said that crews are powerwashing in preparation for mortar and tile installation at the First Avenue station and the platform tiles on the walls at the First Avenue platform are being repaired.
Track work will continue on the project this week as well, including disconnecting the old third rail jumper connections between First Avenue and the circuit breaker house, the installation of the contact rail between First Avenue, the circuit breaker house and weld 10 rail joints there and the installation of a new track fuse box near First Avenue.