By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that the L train project is three months ahead of schedule and will be completed in April 2020, exactly a year after construction began.
The governor’s office said that work on the Manhattan-bound tube is now complete and work on the Brooklyn-bound tube begins this week.
Cuomo and senior MTA leadership toured the completed tube on Sunday, reviewing the new construction methods that were implemented to avoid a complete shutdown of the line while the work was completed, which Cuomo said is also currently on budget.
“Today we saw up close what happens when you abandon the old ways of doing things and think outside the box—you get the work done better, faster and cheaper,” Cuomo said. “And in this case you get a better and safer tunnel than before. This project will ultimately be a case study for how the MTA needs to operate going forward, especially as they implement the upcoming historic capital plan that will completely modernize the entire system and deliver the 21st century transportation service worthy of New York.”
A full shutdown of the L train was scheduled to begin last April to address the damage done by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but after more than three years of planning, Cuomo announced in January that he had spoken with experts, including the deans of both Columbia and Cornell’s engineering schools, about a new plan that would allow the L train to run regularly during weekdays while one of the tubes was closed during nights and weekends for the repairs.
The previous plan required that the entire tube be demolished and rebuilt, making it difficult to reopen both tunnels during the week, but the current plan requires engineers to mount cables on the tunnel wall and mount them in a protective material. The plan eliminated the need to replace parts of the tunnel’s bench wall because with the new mounted cables, the old cables kept in the bench wall would no longer be necessary.
The original shutdown was expected to last 15 months, with the new plan originally projected to last between 15 and 20 months.
The work completed in the Manhattan-bound tube includes a new cable racking system and new fire-resistant cables, new tracks, new discharge lines and a new wall structure with industrial fiber-reinforced polymer, and a new fiber optic monitoring system is being calibrated. The new discharge lines, including pipe and controls, is an upgrade to the pumping system so that the tubes can handle even greater flooding. The new system doubles the water pumping capacity and has a remote monitoring system.
The governor’s office also noted that the new elevators for the Bedford and First Avenue stations are also on schedule and are expected to be completed by November 2020. The MTA recently began an additional accessibility initiative for the 14th Street/Sixth Avenue station and work to add a new escalator at the Union Square station.