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Local Officials Left With ‘More Questions Than Answers’ on New L Train Plans, Demand Commitments

Elected officials at a Jan. 6 press conference on new L train plans (via Eric Adams)

Jan. 7, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan

Several elected officials gathered in Williamsburg yesterday to publicly express their frustrations with the MTA over new L train plans that left them with “more questions than answers.”

At the Jan. 6 press conference held outside the Lorimer Street station, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, and several other officials called on the MTA to be more transparent with logistics surrounding the newly announced L train tunnel construction plan.

The new plan, announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 3, came as a surprise to officials and residents alike.

Cuomo announced that the MTA will put an end to the planned 15-month shutdown of the inter-borough Canarsie Tunnel, and proposed a switch to a newer, innovative technology that will allow for continuous use of the L train, with some weekend and nighttime shutdowns of one of the two tunnel passageways.

Elected officials said they were briefed after the announcement on the change of plans, but criticized the lack of information given at the additional meeting.

According to the officials, neither Cuomo’s team of engineers who designed the plan nor any representatives from the Department of Transportation were at the briefing to answer the many questions they wanted to ask.

Adams explained that their skepticism did not stem from the innovative technology, but rather the lack of communication between MTA, DOT and the communities that their plan will affect.

He called on the MTA to commit to additional community input sessions before the MTA board votes to approve the new plan in the coming weeks.

“This can’t be just simply a power point where we’re growing a few graphs and numbers of the screen,” Adams said. “We need real communication on the ground and using community veins that lead to the major arteries of this community to give that vital information.”

The officials also appeared skeptical of the financial savings Cuomo touted with the new plan, due to its less labor-intensive nature. Rather than demolishing and reconstructing the existing cable system encased in the cement through the Canarsie tunnel, the new plan instead calls for an entirely new racked electrical cable system.

“Are they real?” Brewer asked of the purported savings.

The elected leaders then made a list of demands in light of the new plans and the little information available on them.

They called on Cuomo, for one, to reinvest any savings from the new plan back into the failing subway system.

Facets of the planned mitigation efforts for the prior shutdown plan, which included increased subway service on alternative lines, new bus routes, new ferry routes and expanded Citi Bike service, should also go forward as planned, the group said.

“If the time between trains is too long and the demand is too high, it could be an absolute disaster on the community,” Maloney said.

While Cuomo initially said there would still be increased service on the G,M and 7 trains, DOT has not publicly announced what mitigation efforts will be used for the new L train plan.

The MTA board will meet at the end of the month to officially vote on Cuomo’s new plan, although the MTA said it had accepted the recommendations from Cuomo’s panel of engineers on the sam day new plans were announced.

If approved, construction is anticipated to start around the end of April and will last 15 to 20 months–around the same timeline of the prior plan.

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Blair Bertaccini

How much time will be wasted each night and weekend starting up and shutting done the work? Can they get the silica dust levels down to a safe level each time they end work? How much time is necessary to negotiate a new contract for the work? All as yet unanswered questions.


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