Oh, “L” no!
The MTA is considering shutting L train service down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for more than a year to repair the 80-year-old Canarsie tunnel, potentially creating a transportation nightmare for Ridgewood residents who count themselves among the more than 200,000 daily commuters who use the line.
Stopping service on the L line across the East River would allow the MTA to work straight through the year to repair the damage, rather than only working on the weekends, causing service delays and extending the time needed to complete the repairs.
“The L is obviously a very busy line, servicing 225,000 riders on a weekday on the Canarsie Tube,” said Adam Lisberg, the MTA’s director of external communications. “The tube suffered severe damage during Hurricane Sandy, taking on 7 million gallons of saltwater. It took the MTA 11 days to get it all out.”
Lisberg explained that the saltwater ate away all the concrete lining along the side of the tunnel, which holds power cords, communications, drainpipes and many other important pieces of infrastructure for the line.
This would not be the first time the MTA has shut down an underwater subway line for an extended period of time to make post-Sandy repairs. Between 2013 and 2014, the MTA closed the R train along the Montague tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan to fix damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
“The L train is going to have a lot more disruption,” Linsberg said. “There are not a lot of other options there in the way of trains. It’s in need of major work; the question is how to do it.”
Completely shutting down service is not the only option the MTA is taking into consideration. The MTA could implement expanded weekend shutdowns of the L line, much like it has done when repairing the A and C lines.
“There will be difficult decisions to make there. We have not decided which is the best way to go,” Lisberg said. “We want to work with all the necessary representatives to get a lot of perspective.”
Although L train riders in Ridgewood are not near the damaged portion of the line, they will be affected by a shutdown of the line. Subway riders in the neighborhood do have the option of using the M line, which runs through midtown Manhattan on weekdays and has shuttle service to and from Essex Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side on weekends.
“We are taking very seriously the concerns of those further down the line as well,” Lisberg said. “We will look at every possible alternative plan, any and all possibilities. This isn’t going to start tomorrow; there are many other steps that need to get done before it goes into effect.”