Dec. 11, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Community groups and local officials in Long Island City are urging the city to save an already-cramped train station in the area from further overcrowding once L train riders from North Brooklyn are diverted there for Manhattan-service trains after the line shuts down.
The Court Square Civic Association, based in the Court Square subsection of the rapidly-developing Long Island City, urged MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to come out with a plan to protect the neighborhood’s Court Square station, composed of three connected stations, from the thousands of extra riders that would stop there once the L train tunnel connecting Williamsburg to Manhattan closes in 2019 for Sandy-related repairs.
The G train, which stops at Court Square, will be doubling in length to increase capacity, according to the MTA, to serve would-be L train riders who are expected to use the G to get to the station due to its connection to Manhattan-bound 7, E, and M trains.
“We are already experiencing long lines on the platform approaches and hazardous platform crowding during rush hour,” wrote Pedro Gomez, president of the Court Square Civic Association, in his Dec. 6 letter to the MTA chairman. “The MTA’s proposal to increase capacity on the G will further strain the Court Square station.”
The civic group’s letter follows a letter sent two weeks ago by Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, who asked Lhota to consider a report from the independent transit advocacy group Access Queens on mitigating the effects of the L train shutdown on Western Queens stations.
The report, called “L Train Shutdown ‘Crowd Calming’ Options”, includes an overview of the Long Island City neighborhood and anticipates thousands of people will be moving into the area before 2019, joining the thousands of other people coming from North Brooklyn to Court Square via train.
A number of recommendations, like extending the G line further into Queens, free walking transfers, and new bus options, are put forth in the report, all of which Nolan describes as “helpful” alternatives.
“I support this report and its recommendations and ask that your agency look into them as soon as possible to help the residents and riders of Northern Brooklyn and Western Queens,” she wrote to Lhota in a Nov. 29 letter.
The Court Square Civic Association, which supports Access Queens’s report, demands that the MTA meet with community boards, local officials, and residents of Western Queens to get answers on L train shutdown concerns.
The Canarsie tunnel, connecting Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue station to several stops along the L line in Manhattan, is scheduled to completely close in April 2019 to make way for 15 months worth of repairs after the tunnel was flooded during Superstorm Sandy. The remaining stops in Brooklyn will still see L train service during the closure.
The city has announced measures like increasing capacity on nearby trains and operating through local stations, and is thinking of increased ferry and bus service and improved bike lanes during the shutdown. A finalized plan, however, has yet to be announced for North Brooklyn, to the dismay of several community activists and local officials looking to the shut down just around the corner.
The MTA said it is currently studying additional transit options to implement during the shutdown with a goal of having the basic plans in place by the end of 2017.