It’s official. The MTA announced Monday that the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel will be closed for 18 months — starting in January 2019 — to repair major damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
According to the MTA, the decision to fully close the tunnel for 18 months instead of a one-track, three-year closure was made based on a detailed operational review, and significant community engagement to consider the adverse impacts of the project.
“While the MTA always looks to avoid service disruptions, there is no question that repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel are critical and cannot be avoided or delayed,” said Thomas Prendergast, MTA chairman and CEO in a press release. “Throughout this process we have committed to engaging the community and listening to all concerns so that we can address them as we prepare for this necessary work. We are committed to working with the community just as closely as we develop ways to add service to help minimize the impacts of the closure.”
The extent of damage to the seven-mile-long section of both tubes in the Canarsie Tunnel includes damage to tracks, signals, switches, power and communication cables, signal cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls — which must be replaced to protect the structural integrity of the two tubes.
The MTA is now looking into fully developing alternative service plans to accommodate riders during the shutdown by including additional capacity on the M, J and G lines.
However, one local transportation group has come up with an alternative plan to keep more riders moving through Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The members at ReThink Studio, an urban transportation planning firm, believe that continuing E train service along the G line at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station could help reduce the stress on the other lines while the L train is out of commission.
“I think we’re all gritting our teeth [about the L train shutdown],” said Jim Venturi, founder and principal designer of ReThink Studio. “It is a shame that as a city we haven’t invested as much as everyone would like in transportation, so when something like this happens all we have is a menu of bad options.”
Venturi and ReThink Studio propose an extension of the E train into Brooklyn via the existing A/C tunnel, then along the Court Square-bound G tracks by adding in a rail switch at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station.
“It’s easy for us to say to just put a switch in, but it’s more difficult than that,” Venturi said. “It’s tight to put it in, but it’s possible. It gives north Brooklyn’s G line [the ability] to have single-seat ride into Manhattan. The E train could continue along with its A and C siblings under the East River at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, divert from the A and C and go with the G. In general, the idea makes sense.”
To learn more about ReThink Studio and their plans for changing New York’s transportation system, visit their website.