Brooklyn L Train riders demand answers from MTA, DOT on upcoming shutdown

Time is getting short, and MTA hasn’t revealed plans

December 5, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
North Brooklyn officials, businesses and commuters gathered in Williamsburg Tuesday morning to demand that the MTA report on what it is doing to ameliorate the effect of the impending L Train shutdown. Stakeholders say they haven’t heard from the MTA in a year. Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Stephen Levin
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It’s been about a year since L Train commuters last heard from the MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) about the coming 15-month service shutdown, scheduled to commence in April 2019.

The L Train connects Manhattan to neighborhoods in North Brooklyn, East New York and Canarsie.

On Tuesday, riders, officials and businesses gathered in Williamsburg to demand a report of current plans for a number of troubling issues, including transportation remediation, help for local businesses and any street use changes proposed by DOT.

MTA met with stakeholders in November 2016 to get suggestions, but did not maintain the contact, local officials say. Now locals want a commitment by the agencies and their contractors to meet with a community advisory board on a monthly basis starting in January 2018.

“You can’t have a good relationship without communication,” Councilmember Stephen Levin said in a statement. “If we are going to get through this together, we need to begin frequent and meaningful dialogue. This can only work if the MTA and DOT collaborate and form a solid partnership with each other and with the community.”

“The MTA and DOT promised us a plan for transporting commuters when the L Train shuts down – and we want to make sure they’re remembering that residents, workers and customers have to be able to get to Greenpoint/Williamsburg, not avoid it,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said. “Further, we want to be able to influence the plan as it is being made, rather than after it has been finalized. It’s time for the MTA and DOT to show us what they’re considering.”

 “We started out with a good deal of transparency and communication at the beginning of the process, but now as crunch-time approaches we’re seeing less of that when we should be seeing more,” Assemblymember Joseph Lentol said.

Hundreds of thousands of riders throughout Northern Brooklyn are served by the L train and will be negatively affected by the shutdown. The L train is a lifeline for small businesses.

“April 2019 will be here sooner than we think and our many area businesses who will be affected by the L Train shutdown need to prepare in order to thrive during the 15 months that will follow,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan.

Homer Hill, executive director Grand Street Business Improvement District, said that reconfigurations of Grand Street’s traffic patterns and usage “will have a tremendous effect on the over 150 small businesses located in our district. It’s time for the DOT and MTA to release their plans and begin briefing our community.”

Paul Samulski, president of the North Brooklyn Chamber said the agencies “know what’s coming is going to be bad, real bad, but with more information to work with and adequate time for public input and dialog on the plan, they just might be able to creatively think of ways to lessen the severity of the damage.”

UPDATE: DOT said in a statement on Tuesday that a plan is in its way. Here is the agency’s statement:

“The L train closure will bring substantial commuting and travel disruption on the order of the 2005 transit strike or the weeks following Sandy.  MTA and DOT are working diligently on a daily basis to address the impact and this year-long collaboration is reinforced by the tremendous resources going into mitigation plans. We are still in 2017 and with a year and a half before the closure takes effect, commuters want to take comfort that we are putting in the time to have the best plan possible. We continue to hear concerns and are working aggressively toward that goal. Our agencies will be ready and a plan is forthcoming.”


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