Dec. 14, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan
Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with a team of outside experts, toured the L train tunnel late last night as part of what he called a “personal” effort to ensure that the current construction and shutdown plan for the line is the best one.
The governor, who announced that he would tour the nearly 100-year-old Canarsie tunnel earlier this week, said the team will take about three weeks to process and return with a report that may or may not recommend changes to the currently scheduled 15-month shutdown for repair work.
“I need, personally, to feel confident in that decision,” Cuomo said of the current plans for the line. “And frankly, I don’t want to hear it second hand. I want to see it for myself and I want to have the best minds I can find…review what the plan is.”
The governor brought with him a team of what he described as global experts in the construction and engineering fields to tour the tunnel at around midnight, including engineering experts from Cornell University and Columbia University.
Cuomo described the Hurricane Sandy-induced damage he saw in the 90-minute tour, including corroded concrete and electrical cables, during a press conference afterward.
The waters from the hurricane flooding, he said, didn’t just fill and empty the tunnel, but left salt through its entirety as well.
“Salt and electrical equipment is a toxic cocktail,” he said.
The team of experts will continue to carry out research post-tour and meet with the MTA, where their findings may range from recommending no changes, some alternatives, or suggesting a new plan entirely.
“I’m not going to pursue a project because we executed a contract,” Cuomo said on how the possible recommendations could impact the plan. “We’ll adjust the contract to fit the project that we want to do.”
Cuomo’s visit comes just four months before the MTA’s planned 15 month shutdown of L train service through the tunnel.
Despite wanting to personally assure New Yorkers that the plan on the table is the best and fastest one, some questioned why the tour took place now as opposed to years ago when talks first started on the project.
“Your question is the answer,” Cuomo responded in part to a reporter who asked about the timing of the tour four months before the scheduled start of the shutdown.
As of now, the MTA is still going ahead with its plan to shut down service in the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manattan on April 27.