Everything you need to know about the L Train shutdown
Community Meeting Addresses Closure, Brainstorms New Ideas
With the L-train shutdown looming on the horizon, and with no concrete alternative transportation options in place, the MTA is welcoming any suggestions on how to mitigate the closure for the roughly 400,000 commuters who use the line every day.
Starting in 2019, the MTA will be stopping L-train service for a year and a half to repair the Canarsie tunnel, which was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
On Tuesday, the L Train Coalition hosted a public forum at the Automotive High School in Williamsburg to present its plan on how to deal with the shutdown and to brainstorm new ideas.
The L Train Coalition consists of a group of engaged stakeholders, community organizations, transit advocacy groups, businesses and concerned residents.
At the meeting, the L Train Coalition presented a brief slideshow before attendees broke up into smaller groups. Each group was assigned a different mode of transportation. The groups were labeled Subway, Ferries, Buses, and Streets, Bikes and Pedestrians.
The L Train Coalition reiterated several ideas that have already been presented at past meetings, such as the need to prioritize bus, bike and pedestrian travel, and the need to enhance the J, M, Z, A, C and G trains during the shutdown.
The coalition wants to prohibit cars on 14th Street in Manhattan and along Grand Street in Brooklyn, make smooth transfers between buses, subways and ferries, protect businesses along the L train corridor and better the L train and its stations once the shutdown is over.
The MTA said in a July press release that there would be added service and additional capacity on the M, J and G trains during the L-train shutdown.
In addition, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle in May that the MTA plans on improving the G train by doubling its length of cars, increasing service and using more modern cars. G trains will run more frequently during the L-train closure and the trains will double in length from four cars (300 feet) to eight cars (600 feet), according to Ortiz.
A new idea that was presented at the meeting was to create a free subway transfer and reduced fare on the Long Island Rail Road so that straphangers can commute from Broadway Junction in East New York to Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn.
Other ideas presented at the meeting included creating dedicated bus lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge and using apps to allow residents to pay before they board buses.
In addition to the East River Ferry, a new Citywide Ferry Service, which will be ready by early next summer, will absorb many of the affected commuters. A total of 19 ferries will run along six ferry routes. The ferries will run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., have a larger capacity than the East River Ferry, and offer Wi-Fi, charging stations, restrooms and concession stands.
The city is currently working on creating seamless transfers so that residents can get inland faster.
Daniel Levy, president of the real estate website CityRealty, has also proposed an alternative travel option in the form of an aerial gondola system, which he has dubbed the “East River Skyway.” The tram would connect Williamsburg to Lower Manhattan.
Although the East River Skyway was not discussed at the meeting, three elected officials — Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and City Council member Stephen Levin — have sent letters to Mayor De Blasio urging him to seriously consider the East River Skyway as an alternative during the L-Train shutdown and as a long-term solution to the city’s growing transit crisis.
“As the population in North Brooklyn continues to explode, we need to explore all transit options to ensure people are able to efficiently travel,” said Lentol. “The East River Skyway is an innovative and hip mode of transportation that embodies the forward thinking population of North Brooklyn.
“The Skyway will also have zero on-site emissions, which makes it even more attractive. I am hopeful that Mayor de Blasio will meet with me and my colleagues to discuss how we can make the East River Skyway a reality.”
In addition, the real estate firm ABS Partners announced on Monday that it is working with a group of developers to create a shuttle bus service for East Williamsburg and Bushwick office tenants during the L-train closure.
The shuttle bus service would run to and from the J/M/Z Myrtle Avenue subway station to participating office buildings every 15 to 20 minutes.
“Brooklynites, and New Yorkers in general, learn to adapt and make the city work for them,” said Ben Waller, the head of ABS Partners’ Brooklyn office. “There is a tremendous amount of investment and energy being put into this area of Brooklyn and the stakeholders are working together to ensure that it continues to grow as a hub for business and culture.
“We have a great group of buildings participating in this project and we’re hoping to bring on more partners as the MTA work nears; we want people to know that Bushwick and East Williamsburg will still be easily accessible in 2019,” he continued. “We’re also planning to create a tracking app that shows riders the shuttle’s location in real time, making the commute even easier.”
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