How to get around during the L slowdown

The mayor’s office released this graphic to illustrate how traffic along 14th Street will be managed.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The lesser L train apocalypse is scheduled to begin this Friday and although service will be maintained in Manhattan under the slowdown unlike in the previous full shutdown plan, riders can still expect longer wait times and service changes during nights and weekends until at least next summer when the project is expected to be completed.

The biggest change with the revised L train project is that the L will run normal service during weekday rush hours and service is expected to be available in Manhattan at all times.

According to the MTA’s dedicated page for the plan, available at new.mta.info/L-project, there will be normal L train service between 1:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. throughout the entire line on weekdays, but starting after 8 p.m. this Friday, trains will become less frequent compared to normal service until 10 p.m. during the week.

Service will then be reduced from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. compared to regular service and while trains are expected to run every 20 minutes from 1:30 to 5 a.m. on weeknights and until 6 a.m. on weekend nights, this is the regular overnight frequency for the line.

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ESCR will mean lots of noise for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village

East Side Coastal Resiliency Project rendering showing the Stuyvesant Cove area

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project has found that construction on the flood protection project will likely create disruptive noise for some residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

The document, released by the Department of Design and Construction on Friday, April 5, predicts that construction on the flood protection system will result in “significant adverse noise effects” for 315-321 Avenue C and 620 East 20th Street in Stuy Town and 601 East 20th Street, 8 Peter Cooper Road, 7 Peter Cooper Road, 530 East 23rd Street and 520 East 23rd Street in Peter Cooper.

Despite the increase in outside noise, the DEIS predicts that the decibel levels will actually be considered acceptable inside when the windows are closed because the buildings in ST/PCV have insulated glass. Other buildings within the project area farther downtown, as well as the Asser Levy recreation center, appear to have non- insulating glass windows and are expected to experience noise levels higher than the threshold recommended for residential use, according to City Environmental Quality Review noise exposure guidelines, due to pile driving and other construction work west of the FDR immediately adjacent to the rec center building.

The 961-page document examined overall potential impacts of the plan that the city has chosen to provide continuous flood protection for the East Side, in addition to considering the impact of not building any flood protection and four other alternative plans that the city considered.

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MTA offers few definite answers to L train concerns

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Garvey brings up bike lanes at the meeting. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

As of Monday night, the MTA would still not confirm or deny the possibility of exit-only L train stations at First and Third Avenues or the specifics of increased bus service during the revised L tunnel construction project.

Representatives from the agency were at a Community Board 6 meeting on Monday, where frustrated East Side residents in attendance didn’t get any of the answers they were hoping for.

The CB6 meeting was the first appearance by the transit authority at the community board since the new plan, which allows the L train to continue running while work is being done, was announced in January. Officials from the agency shared updates at the meeting that the MTA had offered local elected officials in mid-February.

Glen Lunden, manager of operations planning at NYC Transit, said that part of the mitigation efforts under the revised plan includes increasing service on the M14, especially along the M14A, which uses Avenue A and runs from the West Village to Grand Street on the Lower East Side. The M14D uses Avenue D, and goes between Chelsea Piers and Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. As Town & Village has previously reported, the agency is planning to launch Select Bus Service on the M14 route but the express but service won’t be available until later in the year.

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New L woes: Delayed SBS, Report of exit-only stations

Council Member Keith Powers said he has asked the MTA not to make the First and Third AvenueL stations exit only during the revised L train project, but hasn’t received an answer. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With L train riders wondering just how rough their commutes will be for the next 15-20 months, the MTA is now saying the work should take less time than originally thought, 15-18 months.

However, during this time, there is the possibility that the First and Third Avenue stops could become exit only to limit crowding, a plan the agency was considering, according to a report based on a draft memo obtained by Streetsblog. Additionally, while there will be M14 Select Bus Service, that isn’t expected to be made available until the fall, local elected officials recently learned.

Council Member Keith Powers, who was in attendance at an MTA briefing held last Wednesday for elected officials, said he has grilled the agency on these and other concerns from L train riders and residents who live around the construction zone. Another concern is that with the revised L train repair plan, service will be dramatically reduced on weeknights from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. and on the weekends.

“The number one concern we (have been hearing) was the possibility of First Avenue (and Third Avenue) being exit only,” Powers said. “I pushed back on this very hard. We can’t close First Avenue if the SBS isn’t ready in time. This is why you need L train alternatives that are good. We want there to be bus service or an L train stop. This is unacceptable. Not to have it in a construction zone, it’s a triple whammy. It’s unacceptable.”

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Neighbors demand clarity on Coastal Resiliency project

Department of Design and Construction associate project manager Eric Ilijevich (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gramercy residents slammed city officials for a lack of updates and lack of response to concerns about the flood protection project planned for the East Side at a Community Board 6 meeting last Monday.

Representatives for the Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the plan known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, were at the Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting last week ostensibly to provide updates on Project Area 2, which stretches from East 13th Street around the Con Edison plant up to just beyond the Asser Levy Recreation Center and playground at East 25th Street.

But Land Use Committee member and East Midtown Plaza resident Claude Winfield expressed frustration at the meeting that DDC’s presentation encompassed the changes outside the community district without addressing any of the concerns committee members had expressed about the project in their neighborhood.

When representatives for DDC said that there would be additional opportunities to ask questions about the plan, committee chair Sandro Sherrod responded, “We don’t have questions so much as objections to parts of the plan.”

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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.”

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Whose subway line is it, anyway?

MTA board meets on new L train plan, with mixed reviews

Some of the crowd at the L train meeting on Tuesday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, as Governor Cuomo gave his state of the state address, which mentioned his eleventh hour L train shutdown alternative, the Metropolitan Transit Authority did as the governor’s been demanding, holding an emergency board meeting on the state of the L train.

At this meeting, which drew a crowd of over 100 people, a mix of members of the public and media professionals as well as at least a couple of elected officials, over a dozen MTA board members took turns asking questions about Cuomo’s alternative to the shutdown. There was no vote on whether to approve it or not.

Meanwhile, a few board members, including Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, were confused about what they were there for since the alternative repair plan to the Canarsie tubes has already been spoken about as if it’s a done deal.

“Is the decision made?” asked Trottenberg. “Do we have any actual role here? I’m not hearing that we do.”

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Editorial: We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this will work. How about you?

We will freely admit that the governor’s slamming the brakes on a plan that would have made 250,000 straphangers miserable for 15 months (instead proposing significantly less misery for that time or perhaps five months longer) felt like a white knight rescue.

But.

Andrew Cuomo is no knight. Nor is he, for that matter, an engineer.

Andrew Cuomo is a politician, and the experts he’s relying on for all this newfound information also have no experience with the subway they’re proposing to fix. So please forgive us if we’re not phone banking for Cuomo’s 2020 presidential campaign just yet. Especially since it’s still curious as to why the famously calculating governor would take such an incredible risk. The election against his formidable primary challenger is over, after all. NYC Transit President Andy Byford believes he is the one who would be on the hook if this plan fails spectacularly and he is of course right, but so would Cuomo since we all know he’s the one strong-arming all of this.

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Governor cancels L train shutdown for alternative plan

Governor Andrew Cuomo at the announcement on Thursday (Photo via Governor Cuomo Flickr)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Governor Andrew Cuomo effectively canceled the 24/7 L train shutdown in favor of a plan that will supposedly fix the Canarsie tube through work on nights and weekends, the governor’s office announced in a press conference on Thursday.

The announcement came only a month after the governor conducted a last-minute inspection of the tunnel, despite the fact that the MTA and respective city agencies have been planning the shutdown for the last three years and the closure was scheduled to start in less than four months.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo is proposing to implement a plan that would use technology from Europe to fix the tunnel, which would allow the L to have full train service during the weekdays and would close one of the tubes on nights and weekends for the repairs.

The MTA’s acting chairman Fernando Ferrer, who was appointed by Cuomo, told the New York Times that the agency “welcomed” the plan and would be adopting it, with the project expected to take 15 to 20 months, compared to 15 months for the fulltime shutdown.

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Neighbors, CB6 have concerns over revised East Side Coastal Resiliency project

Some of the people in attendance at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Around 200 East Side residents, concerned about sudden changes to a plan that proposes rebuilding sections of the parks close to the water, packed a meeting that was held to update the community on Tuesday night. The most significant departure from the original plan, known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, is a de facto rebuilding of the East River Park on top of flood protection rather than building the flood protection around the existing park.

Representatives from a number of city agencies were on hand at the event, which was held at Hunter’s Brookdale Campus on East 25th Street, a day after a similar meeting about the project on the Lower East Side.

Although most of the substantial changes announced at this meeting and an event held the day before on the Lower East Side were related to the plans for East River Park farther downtown, officials scheduled the second meeting at Brookdale at the insistence of Community Board 6 representatives and local elected officials, since the entire project area stretches up to East 25th Street.

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MTA to reduce L train shutdown by three months

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced at the end of last week that the L train tunnel will likely be closed for 15 months instead of the originally-proposed 18 for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs and the shutdown will begin in April 2019 instead of that January.

Transportation blog Second Ave. Subway first noticed the changes to the plan in the board’s materials last Friday and MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco confirmed via Twitter that the timeline had changed.

The materials released last Friday note that the agency chose to award the contract for the project to joint venture Judlau Contracting Inc./TC Electric, LLC because of the work the contractors have done for the MTA on other Sandy-related projects, and could apply their previous experience from similar projects to lessen the impact on the community and, ideally, shorten both the full closure and the entire project duration.

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MTA will conduct study on a traffic-free 14th Street during L train shutdown

hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA will be conducting a study on a plan to close 14th Street to traffic for the duration of the planned 18-month L train shutdown.

The feasibility study was announced by State Senator Brad Hoylman on Wednesday, who, along with quite a few other elected officials, had requested the study.

“More than 50,000 people cross Manhattan daily on the L train below 14th Street,” Hoylman said. “It’s crucial that we have a plan in place to accommodate these riders given the L train will be closed for 18 months starting in January, 2019.”

He added that the study includes a proposal for a dedicated bus lane and expanded cyclist and pedestrian access.

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More buses promised during L train shutdown

For Stuyvesant Town and East Village residents, a bright spot of the looming L train shutdown is a new subway entrance on Avenue A, as pictured here in a newly released rendering.

For Stuyvesant Town and East Village residents, a bright spot of the looming L train shutdown is a new subway entrance on Avenue A, as pictured here in a newly released rendering.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents affected by the imminent L train closure got a visit from New York City Transit officials last Wednesday in a meeting organized by Community Board 3 and 6, held at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

At the meeting, NYC Transit reps promised a beefed up bus fleet around Stuyvesant Town to deal with the planned L train shutdown.

Agency Operations Planning Chief Peter Cafiero said, “If there is no service in Manhattan, then we need to build up the bus fleet. We could be implementing what I’m calling the M14 SBS. It would serve Stuyvesant Town more directly by looping up to East 20th Street.”

This was the second of what the agency has said would be a number of meetings to both get feedback and inform the community about the planned shutdown, which won’t start until 2019. The agency also said at this recent meeting that they will be hosting a meeting some time in the fall just for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents.

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CW sues insurer over Sandy claims

 

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

 

By Sabina Mollot
It was 28 months ago when the wrath of Hurricane Sandy caused the East River to rise 14 feet and barrel its way into Manhattan’s East Side. In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the gushing water caused unprecedented damage, destroying the management office and flooding basements and garages. But according to CWCapital, its insurance company has still not paid over a third of what the owner believes is owed for the damage.
The suit, filed last Thursday, said Lexington Insurance Co. has only paid $60 million of the repair costs and estimated losses that the owner has claimed were actually over $95 million. Adding insult to injury, the insurance company is also trying to bring the entire amount, including what has already been paid, to appraisal.

In its complaint, which is over 100 pages long, CW said the insurer, despite having its agents examine the damage on site, has “capped what it was willing to pay, regardless of the costs of repair.” Additionally, “Lexington simply ignored PCV/ST’s pleas for payment while at the same time, acknowledging that they were covered.”

The suit, which was first reported by Law360, noted how employees on the property immediately started work on the repairs to minimize the inconvenience to residents, which CW said served to minimize business interruption losses.
CW had hoped to get the insurer to agree on a $100 million settlement but Lexington and agents for Lexington from an insurance industry adjuster called Vericlaim “rebuffed those efforts.”

14th Street between Avenues B and C during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (Photographer unknown)

East River water buried cars outside of Stuyvesant Town when Hurricane Sandy hit. (Photographer unknown)

CW said it has since refined its estimate to reflect newer information and now believes the actual costs from repairs and losses amount to $95,296,483. The owner said the insurer has been provided with access to the property’s employees as well as the related documentation. “PCV/ST has responded to reasonable, and many unreasonable requests for information by Lexington and Vericlaim,” CW wrote.

CW also wrote that the refusal to pay the full estimate is the result of an “incomplete” inspection that was conducted in 2013 by an insurance industry construction consultant called Wakelee Associates. “Based largely on Wakelee’s results,” Lexington informed CW that the loss and damage amounted to about $60 million. Close to $53 million of that has actually been paid out, which, with the $7,500,000 deductible, reflects Lexington’s $60 million estimate.

CW also said some of its costs have been challenged in cases where equipment had to be replaced rather than just repaired. CW defended its actions though, citing in one example the property’s heat controls. The system had controllers that were destroyed in many buildings when Sandy hit. A different type of system was then installed since the original one was no longer commercially available.

CW gave some other examples of not receiving all it believes the property was owed, including in work relating to replacement of all the buildings’ cast iron drain pipes, which had all gotten clogged with water and debris. When dozens of onsite plumbers couldn’t unclog them, contractors had to be hired to saw through concrete basement floors, which meant additional costs to replace floors, drywall, tile and other property. A year later, Wakelee “took the position they could have been unclogged,” said CW, adding that there were no objections when the work was being done. CW said Lexington also accused the owner of having a “premeditated plan” to replace them.

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The document went on to list other things CW was stuck footing all or some of the bill for such as replacement of steel window and door frames that had been exposed to river water and had corroded, work at the old management office, now converted into apartments (specifically installation of equipment and furniture), damaged fire mains, asbestos removal from buildings, reimbursement for employees’ cleanup/repair work (since they were diverted from their regular duties to do it) and income loss from laundry rooms, garages and the fitness center.
CW is also attempting to block Lexington from pursuing appraisal.

A spokesperson for CWCapital said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Lexington didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Bellevue gets $380M for Sandy rebuilding

Bellevue Hospital (Photo courtesy of hospital)

Bellevue Hospital (Photo courtesy of hospital)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bellevue Hospital Center will get a $376 million slice of federal money to cover the cost of putting right damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced last Thursday that the city has secured $1.6 billion in federal aid from FEMA to repair the city’s public hospitals damaged during Hurricane Sandy two years ago.

With its share of the cash, Bellevue will install flood-proof elevators, storm pumps and a flood wall.

“The entire New York Congressional Delegation came together to fight for these funds, and wisely sought resources not just for repairs, but also for mitigation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, in whose district the hospital is located.

“Bellevue is an important facility and it sustained substantial damage and had to be evacuated during Hurricane Sandy. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure that doesn’t happen again.”

According to Bellevue authorities, much of the damage caused by the 2012 superstorm has already been repaired and the fresh FEMA funds will reimburse HHC for those repairs and mitigation work.

Many pieces of critical equipment, such as electrical switching gear, have been relocated out of the basement to higher elevation on the first floor and the hospital has installed removable flood barriers at the two loading dock entrances facing the East River.

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