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Queens Chronicle

New L train plans beg new questions

Cuomo-commissioned engineering review said to avert total shutdown

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2019 10:30 am

Weeks before the panned 15-month shutdown of the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, Gov. Cuomo announced that engineering and construction techniques never before tried on railroad tunnels in the United States would be used in order to keep it open during weekdays and rush hours.

With the project due to start in April, Cuomo turned in December to a panel of engineering professors from Columbia and Cornell universities to see if a shutdown could be avoided, based on continued feedback that a full closure would be too disruptive.

While the L train does not extend into Queens, hundreds and possibly thousands of Ridgewood residents make up the more than 400,000 weekly riders on the line. The Myrtle-Wyckoff and Halsey Street stations are on the Ridgewood-Bushwick border. The Wilson Street stop is two blocks beyond the border with Brooklyn.

The new proposal will close one tube nights and weekends while the other tube runs reduced service in both directions for between 15 and 20 months.

And while academics have spoken, after about three years of MTA studies and public outreach, Cuomo’s decision has raised some questions.

Many residents, preparing for the shutdown, moved, and landlords and businesses had to make decisions based on plans that had been forming for years. MTA contractors had purchased equipment and materials and had agreements with subcontractors.

Nick Rafter, a realtor in Queens and Brooklyn and a former editor for the Chronicle, said the impacts were real.

“A lot of people moved because they were anticipating the [full] shutdown, Rafter told the Chronicle last Friday. “Real estate prices dropped in Williamsburg, for rentals and sales, but more for rentals.

“I had a client who just moved to Greenpoint when [Cuomo’s] announcement came, but he’s staying there,” he said. “And I was going to meet a client in Williamsburg today who was planning to move but told me he’s staying now.”

He said the impact also was felt on the other end of he tunnel in the East Village.

While it was announced last week that the tunnel contract would not be rebid, published reports are saying the MTA has entered into renegotiations with contractors. Cuomo’s office did not directly address questions from the Chronicle on that measure, but a state official did downplay that aspect.

“Remember, this is just one part of the tunnel project,” he told the Chronicle. “It’s not like we are making a U-turn on this. The project is still going ahead.”

The Cuomo administration and the MTA have said that plans to add more buses and service on the G, M and 7 subway lines are still in play because of the weekend closures, something Danny Pearlstein of the Riders Alliance said has to be non-negotiable if Williamsburg and other neighborhoods are going to lose train service nights and weekends.

“Those are 24-7 neighborhoods,” Pearlstein said. Rafter concurred.

“I’ve seen L train stations that can be more crowded nights and weekends than in the morning rush hour,” he said.

John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, and Jaqi Cohen of the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign last week both expressed tempered enthusiasm at the announcement, saying while they like the idea of minimal impact, they also would like more details.

“The governor’s plan may or may not work, but you’ll pardon transit riders for being skeptical that a last-minute Hail Mary idea cooked up over Christmas is better than what the MTA came up with over three years of extensive public input,” Raskin said in his organization’s press release.

“Riders deserve a real plan with real specifics, and right now they don’t have one,” Cohen said. Raskin called for an independent review of the new recommendations by experts not beholden to the govrnor or the MTA —and launched an additional salvo across Cuomo’s bow.

“The governor raised many new questions, but he again settled an old one: it’s certainly #CuomosMTA, and the fate of millions of angry transit riders is in his hands, not just on the L train but on every failing subway line citywide.”

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1 comment:

  • pvrjr posted at 3:02 pm on Mon, Jan 14, 2019.

    pvrjr Posts: 315

    Its super hypocritical Cromo saving the day once again, wasting precious time of our own lives. [wink]