Nearly four years since Hurricane Sandy‘s storm surge flooded the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the MTA is still working hard to permanently repair the damage and fortify it against the threat of future coastal storms.
But with the work being far from completion, the MTA announced on Thursday it would close one of the tunnel’s two tubes every weekend until further notice in order to expedite the project.
The first extended closure will take place this weekend, from 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, through 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17; one lane of traffic will be maintained, at reduced speeds, in each direction. Tube closures will continue at the same hours — 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. the following Monday — every weekend until the work is completed, an MTA spokesperson told QNS.
Working with Judlau Contracting of Queens, the MTA is in the midst of a $236.5 million renovation of the Queens Midtown Tunnel; the twin tubes were flooded with salt water from the storm surge that Hurricane Sandy brought into New York City in October 2012. The MTA made quick, temporary repairs to the electrical and drainage systems in order to reopen the tunnel to traffic within days of the storm.
At the start of the project, the MTA estimated the work would be completed by 2019; the weekend tube closures will allow crews to work on a more accelerated schedule. This could cut the project’s duration by as much as a full calendar year, according to the MTA spokesperson.
The closures will alternate the between the Manhattan-bound and Queens-bound tubes depending on the nature of the work to be completed on a given weekend. The Manhattan-bound tube is closed on Monday through Thursday nights from 9:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m., and that closure will remain in effect.
Losing one of the two tubes of the Queens Midtown Tunnel each weekend figures to cause heavy traffic on both sides of the East River and especially in Queens, as traffic from the three eastbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway will need to merge into one near the toll plaza in Long Island City.
The MTA advises Queens and Long Island residents heading to Midtown Manhattan to use the Long Island Rail Road on weekends to avoid traffic. If you must drive, consider other East River crossings.
Once completed, the revamped Queens Midtown Tunnel will feature new wall tiles, ceiling finishes, curbs, catwalks, duct banks, LED lighting and a repaved roadbed.
Call 511 or visit mta.info for more details.