Since word leaked in January that the MTA was planning to shut down L train service for over a year in order to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, the residents, small businesses, and restaurant and bar owners who belong to the grassroots L Train Coalition have desperately wondered what the extended vacation will mean in real terms. For almost a year now, they’ve been locked in a push-and-pull with the MTA and elected officials, all in an effort to get the facts straight and prepare for the impact. At a meeting last night dubbed “What the L?”, coalition members took matters into their own hands and unveiled a report that proposes a 14th Street “transitway” that would be closed to private vehicles and other measures to stave off the L-pocalypse.
So Long L Train
Since the news that the L Train will be shut down for 18 months became official, people have been scrambling, much like a crowd stuck behind a stroller on the Bedford stop’s narrow stairs, to figure out what to do about it.
Earlier this afternoon, a group of 32 elected officials, led by State Senator Daniel Squadron, called on the city, state and MTA officials to create an “interagency working group” to come up with mitigation solutions and prevent those along the L Train from getting completely stranded during the shut down. It’s important to remember, they argue, that, to a certain subset of Manhattan-bound commuters, this is a monumentally important issue: “As you know, the L train is a transit lifeline for many of the communities we represent,” Squadron said in a statement. “It is clear that mitigating the impacts of the closure requires bold action within and outside the MTA and significant interagency coordination.”
The MTA held its second public meeting to discuss the impending L train closure, and last night’s hearing at the 14th Street Salvation Army Theater couldn’t have been more different from the one hosted in Brooklyn last week. For one, the attendance was dominated by the same crowd you’d see at a City Council Committee meetings– aging hippies, your Dave Stuben types, the occasional transport dork, press, press, and more press; and the few regular people left in the immediate area around Union Square and Chelsea who also happen to have extra time on their hands.
Last night, the big players in the L train shutdown finally met with North Brooklyn community leaders and residents for a public forum and, for the first time, discussed candidly the extensive damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy and the two proposals for the reconstruction project. While the MTA hasn’t yet come to a decision, it seems to be favoring a full shutdown that would mean 18 months without any service between 8th Avenue and Bedford Avenue. MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast acknowledged it would be the “most impactful” event ever for New York City’s public transit system.
The MTA has confirmed that any 24/7 closure of the L-train tunnel is “unlikely to begin before January of 2019” and is promising there will be a “new dynamic” with riders and residents as the agency decides how best to repair damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.
Our glasses-wearing New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, repping parts of North Brooklyn and the LES not just in style but also in substance, posed some gnawing questions to the MTA today regarding the much feared L train shutdown. At a budget hearing in Albany, the senator echoed some concerns expressed last night at a meeting of North Brooklyn residents, business owners, commuters, and workers who are bracing for the “major disruption” that will be caused by the repair of two East River tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, MTA chair Thomas F. Prendergast had some relatively comforting answers.
Are we ready for the impending L-pocalypse?
Last night the L Train Coalition, a growing group of community stakeholders, met to confront the specter of a year-long L train shutdown and figure out how to reduce the suck for those who live, work, and play in North Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. Their mission: to prevent the MTA from, well, acting like the MTA and screwing it all up.