L train neighbors slam MTA over noise, debris and mysterious goo

Dec13 L train Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein with L train construction zone neighbors and disability advocates in front of the MTA’s headquarters (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While most New Yorkers are approaching April with a sense of dread because of the start to the 15-month L-pocalypse, for those who live around the East 14th Street construction site, the nightmare has been going on already for quite some time.

Recently, local elected officials were able to secure some concessions from the MTA in response to neighbor concerns like additional lighting along the sidewalks where views of the street are obstructed by construction barriers, a commitment to install air quality monitors along the street and reopening of the sidewalk on the East Village side of the street, where stores have been cut off from foot traffic.

However, many concerns have remained, such as noisy work that goes on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as on weekends, clouds of debris that have caused some neighbors to fear for their respiratory health and equipment-packed streets that have led to an obstacle course for the disabled. Residents have also been left to wonder about the presence of an unidentified, glowing green substance in one of the many dumpsters that regularly get trucked in and out of the site.

On Tuesday, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein joined a few residents whose apartments overlook the construction zone for a press conference in front of MTA’s downtown Broadway headquarters. The protesters held signs that indicated MTA stands for “Making Tenants Angry” and one that showed a photo of the goo-filled dumpster at the site.

“We respect the need to upgrade the L train,” said Epstein. “But at what cost? At what consequences? We ask the MTA to do more.”

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20th Street re-design has residents ticketed, towed and just plain ticked

The newly laid out street east of First Avenue, with two protected bike lanes, has confused drivers and worried pedestrians. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The traffic safety enhancement project along 20th Street, east of First Avenue, which has so far included creating two protected bike lanes on the north side of the street and moving a bus stop to an island outside the bike lanes, apparently isn’t making neighborhood residents feel any safer.

In fact, many residents have been complaining to Council Member Keith Powers that they’re now more afraid for their safety now that they have to cross the bike lanes to catch the bus. Additionally, at least 15 drivers have contacted Powers to say they’ve gotten tickets, usually for $115, for parking in spots that were legal up until very recently. A few people have also been towed at an additional pickup fee of up to $225.

The project, which began in October, was aimed at making the streets safer in anticipation of increased bike and pedestrian traffic to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing once the L train shutdown begins on April 27.

But from what Powers has been hearing, the general response has been that the work seemed unnecessary.

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Cops on lookout for L train masturbator

Dec13 public lewdness

Public lewdness suspect

Police are looking for a man who was seen masturbating on an L train at Union Square on Monday, December 3.

The victim, a 29-year-old woman, said that it occurred at around 12:45 p.m. as the man stood close to where she was. The victim snapped a photo of the suspect before she left the train at the next station.

The suspect is described as white and 25-35 years-old, and was last seen wearing all dark clothing.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crimestoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Man rubs boy’s thigh on A train near 14th Street: Cops

Dec6 sex abuse suspect

Sex abuse suspect

Police are looking for a creep who rubbed a nine-year-old boy’s thigh repeatedly on an A train near 14th Street.

On Monday, December 3 at about 7 a.m., the man was on the train and leaned over to where the victim was, rubbing his thigh three times, the boy’s sister told police.

When the sister, a 20-year-old woman, realized what he was doing, she yelled at the man and then alerted the conductor once the train entered 14th Street. The suspect meanwhile fled the train further into the station.

He is described as Hispanic, 30 to 40 years old, with a salt and pepper goatee; and was last seen wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Greenway project near Waterside postponed to 2019

 

The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After announcing in September that work would begin this fall on improvements to the Greenway on the East Side between Waterside Plaza and the East 34th Street Heliport, the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it has been put on hold until next year.

A spokesperson for the DOT did not have specific details on when next year the work would begin but said that the agency expects to start work when the weather gets warmer and to complete the project by next summer.

DOT originally presented the project to Community Board 6 two years ago in November 2016 with plans for the bike lanes north of Stuyvesant Cove Park leading up to Waterside Plaza, past the United Nations International School and the Water Club, up to the heliport at East 34th Street, reconfiguring the lanes to make them more visible and separate cyclists from vehicle traffic.

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MTA aiming to restore parking on E. 14th St., add pedestrian spaces

L train construction site on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With preparations for the L train shutdown already months in progress, 14th Street residents are now seeing changes to create the incoming busway, increased pedestrian spaces and accommodations for bicyclists.

Residents and local business owners have also expressed concern about the shrinking sidewalk space on the south side of 14th Street right by the First Avenue station and the loss of parking in the same area due to the preliminary work by the MTA.

However, Kaitlin McCready with NYC Transit said at a recent Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting that the agency is aiming to reopen the south side of East 14th Street by the end of this month, and restore parking there in the next several months, ideally by next January.

The Union Square Partnership also sent out updates at the beginning of November, noting that implementation for a shared street on University Place will begin this month. Shared streets are roads where pedestrians and cyclists share space with slow-moving vehicles, and the shared street on University will be between East 13th and 14th Streets. The additions will include creating curb extensions on University Place and East 14th at the southeast and southwest corners, as well as at the northwest and southeast corners of East 13th Street.

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E. 20th St. already looks different due to new bike lanes, bus islands

The construction east of First Avenue is part of the traffic safety enhancement plan. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

This week, numerous readers reached out to Town & Village, asking about all the work currently going on at East 20th Street, east of First Avenue.

As we reported last month, the Department of Transportation was in the early stages of a traffic safety enhancement project on East 20th Street along the route to the ferry. The project also unfortunately included the removal of 12 parking spots.

Work, however, began in earnest last weekend, with bike lanes being built on the north side of the street adjacent to bus boarding islands.

Council Member Keith Powers said his office has also received many calls, including some complaints, from residents, mainly over the loss of parking at a time when East 14th Street has also lost dozens of spaces due to the L train related construction work. In response, Powers said he’s asked DOT officials to walk along the street with him.

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MTA announces additional service on other lines to help make up for L train shutdown

The schedule changes add up to over 1,000 additional roundtrips each week. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Last Monday, the MTA New York City Transit announced details about planned increases in subway service to help commuters who’d normally be riding the L train during the upcoming shutdown.

The additional subway service that will run during the 15-month-long shutdown for repairs and restorations will add up to over 1,000 roundtrips each week across seven subway lines, including additional service on the 7 train that was announced in September.

During weekdays, changes include:

On the G: 66 additional roundtrips; some peak trips extend to 18th Avenue, and some peak trips run between Court Sq-23rd Street and Bedford-Nostrand Avenue

On the M: 62 additional roundtrips, increased peak-hour service and overnight service extends to 96th St to Second Avenue

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Electric bus fleet won’t be ready in time for L shutdown

An electric bus similar to those that will be rolled out during the L train shutdown (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Electric buses for the new M14 SBS route for the L train shutdown won’t be in the fleet until the end of 2019, at least five months after the shutdown begins, NYC Transit officials said at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.

Fifteen of the 40 vehicles on this route will be electric articulated buses. There will be five electric and 10 hybrid diesel-electric buses for the inter-borough routes in use by April 2019, but this fleet is twice that of the M14 at 80 buses.

“Less than half of the M14 buses will be electric but these have a very long lead time to get,” said Rob Thompson of NYC Transit. “We’re throwing them out as fast as we can get them.”

New York City Transit will also be making changes to bus stops around 14th Street prior to the shutdown and Thompson noted that two stops near Union Square would be relocated within the next month to accommodate the work that DOT is doing for the shutdown.

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MTA takes a tour of L hell

New lighting and air quality monitors installed, pols also hope for improvements on noise, parking

Council Member Keith Powers was one of a few local elected officials who recently went on a walkthrough of the L train construction zone on East 14th Street with Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Keith Powers)

By Sabina Mollot

With the L train shutdown now six months away, constant noise and debris have already been a part of life for residents of East 14th Street on Avenue A and east for months due to the preliminary work.

Neighbors have been vocal all along of their displeasure about the work to build the Avenue A entrance to the First Avenue subway stop and an Avenue B substation, and local elected officials have managed to win a few concessions from the MTA on their behalf. But the biggest problems, like late night construction noise and the loss of 60 parking spots, have remained.

On October 15, Council Member Keith Powers hosted a walkthrough of the 14th Street worksite and surrounding areas with NYC Transit President Byford and Council Member Carlina Rivera, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.

It was following that scenic tour that Powers said the MTA agreed to make some changes and consider others.

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About the orange bags lining 14th St.

Orange garbage bags used by the MTA (Photo by Hermann Reiner)

As if the L train construction zone on East 14th Street wasn’t already cluttered enough, over the weekend, Stuyvesant Town resident Hermann Reiner found oversized orange construction bags left at the bus stop, and, he noted, “not for the first time.”

Asked about their purpose, a spokesperson for the MTA told us that the bags were being used to discard debris from “routine” track maintenance unrelated to the ongoing construction to build the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue L station, and that that there were no hazardous materials being collected.

In response, Reiner said it still didn’t explain why bags were left on the street.

“So why are they dumped at the bus station? It blocked the front door of the 14th Street buses,” said Reiner. “About five weeks ago the bags were on the sidewalk for about 10 days. I had called 311 to clean up; do they need a special cleanup crew?”

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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.

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Mugger punches woman at L train station

Oct25 L train mugger1

Robbery suspect

Police are looking for a man who grabbed a woman’s purse and attacked her when she tried to get it back.

On Monday, October 8 about 12:30 p.m., the mugger approached the 23-year-old victim as she sat, riding the L train at Sixth Avenue on Monday, October 8. He then forcefully took her purse as the train entered the station. The woman got up and chased the mugger who darted out of the train. When the victim came close to getting bag her bag, the man punched her in the face and she let the purse go.

The man then fled in an unknown direction and the victim, police said, was uninjured and refused medical attention at the scene. The purse contained roughly $60.

Oct25 L train mugger2

Robbery suspect

The suspect is described as black, in his 20s or 30s; 6’0″ tall and 180 lbs., and was last seen wearing all dark clothing.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Safety enhancements coming to East 20th Street, but parking spots have been removed

Oct4 20th Street work

Markings made east of First Avenue and 20th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday morning, residents of East 20th Street noticed some work being done on the street between Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on the north side of the street, specifically painting the bike lanes black and adding a double line to the middle of the street. Not to mention, a dozen parking spots were removed.

Asked about this, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation confirmed the DOT was behind the project, which involves installing protected bike lanes and enhancing safety along the route to the ferry.

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L train neighbors worried about noise, dust and diesel

The possibility of 24/7 construction on East 14th Street as the Avenue A subway entrance is being built was raised at a town hall meeting on Monday night. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Village residents and local politicians demanded detailed mitigation plans from transit officials about noise and air quality relating to the upcoming L train shutdown at a recent town hall.

Speakers at the meeting, held on Monday night, brought up the construction that has already taken over East 14th Street and Avenue A as part of the work for the new subway entrance for the L train, with multiple others commenting on the increase in diesel buses in neighborhoods throughout Lower Manhattan.

“I think many of my neighbors were still surprised to realize that this will be a 24/7 construction zone moving forward in the months and years ahead,” Council Member Keith Powers said at the meeting, noting that he has already been hearing from constituents living near the construction zone at Avenue A who are dealing with noise, dust and vibrations in their apartments.

“That is in addition to everything else that we’ve talked about, which is making sure that people will be able to get to work every single day and get around the city,” Powers said. “I would ask again that we have a real plan to address long-term construction area around 14th Street, that we have a dust mitigation and noise plan. We can still do better in addressing these issues.”

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