By Mark Hallum
The MTA’s celebration of the reopening of the M train with reconstruction of the Myrtle Viaduct was not without its snags Monday as a switch malfunction stalled service for over an hour and a half just hours after the line was once again made available.
With New York City Transit President Andy Byford greeting Manhattan commuters at the Fresh Pond Road station at around 8 a.m., touting the agency’s accomplishment of finishing the project within the budget and on time, the MTA said the completion of the project would brace L train riders for the impending tunnel closure.
“It is imperative that M train service operates as efficiently as possible for all our customers who rely on it,” Byford said. “When we couple the long-term fortification work on this line with the smoother ride and quieter tracks, we can be sure we’re on our way to building the world-class transit system we’ve pledged to deliver.”
Vital for about 60,000 daily commuters, the 310-foot Myrtle Viaduct was closed for much of 2017 to revitalize the high line structure which has withstood 100 years of 24/7 service.
About $168 million was spent on the two-phase project, which included the reconstruction of the Fresh Pond Bridge during the summer months.
“Completing this project on time and on budget was critical to show how serious we are about minimizing impacts on our customers as we perform this important work,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “This is a major win for our customers and the surrounding community. We promised to modernize and stabilize the subway system, and we thank our customers for their continued patience as we take the necessary steps to do so.”
The strengthening of M line service will provide relief to L train riders who will be affected by the Canarsie Tunnel shutdown for 15 months starting in April 2019.
A joint open house in Ridgewood between the MTA and the city Department of Transportation April 12 outlined an ambitious plan to move up to 200,000 daily commuters from Brooklyn and Queens into Manhattan during the 15-month period in which a portion of the L train will be shut down for tunnel repairs.
The Canarsie Tunnel was one of nine underwater right-of-ways flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and sustained the most amount of damage to tracks, signals, signal lines, power cables, communication lines, lighting and ducts along the over 7,000-foot stretch.
The MTA said it also factored in capacity on the No. 7 line, which should be able to support an overflow of people from Brooklyn alongside the M.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall