By Mark Hallum
Big upgrades are coming to the E and M line between the holidays with an East River tunnel being shut down to expedite the replacement of infrastructure.
Between Dec. 26 and Dec. 31, the 53rd Street tunnel will be closed between Court Square and 50 St-8 Ave. for the installment of tracks and signals, the MTA announced.
“We pledged to do more work in less time as we work hard to improve the subway system, and this is yet another example,” MTA Chief Operating Officer Phil Eng said. “The schedule for this intensive Subway Action Plan and capital improvement work minimizes the impact on our customers while putting in new track, third rail and signal equipment for a more reliable ride. We appreciate our customers’ patience while we do this critical work.”
The E train terminates in Forest Hills, while the M line ends in Middle Village.
The MTA said the low ridership during this five-day period will allow the state agency to accomplish four weekends’ worth of work in one sweep, with service being restored in time for New Year’s Eve.
Up to four miles of cabling for new signals will include hardware compatible with the Communications-Based Train Control, or CBTC, which will eventually replace the current analog system installed at the inception of the subway system and is prone to failure.
The No. 7 train still awaits this technology, which allows the MTA to run trains closer together.
About 2,000 feet of third-rail replacement will coincide with the installment of 700 feet of new track. Workers will be able to do about 1,000 feet of track drainage clearing and leak-eliminating grouting
E trains will be running along the F line between Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Ave. and West 4th St. at all times while still stopping at World Trade Center at all times except 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Shuttle service in Brooklyn between Metropolitan Ave. and Myrtle-Wyckoff Ave. will take up the slack of M train service being suspended.
F, R and E service will be available to those traveling to and from Forest Hills-71 Ave.
In late June, Cuomo called for a state emergency for the subways to suspend bureaucracy to expedite improvements following system-wide meltdowns, including a derailment in Harlem which injured over 30 straphangers. Since then, the state of emergency has been renewed by the state four times.
In October, Cuomo began assembling an advisory board of transit experts, politicians and private sector leaders known as “Fix NYC” to help implement congestion pricing on thoroughfares into Manhattan and create a dedicated revenue stream for the MTA.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall