Make Your Voice Heard: MTA, DOT to host 4 public forums on L-Train shutdown
An estimated 225,000 people will have their lives dramatically altered come April 2019 when the L train is shut down for 15 months.
The reason for the closure is clear: Repairs need to be made to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was damaged in Superstorm Sandy.
How MTA plans to alleviate commuting during that time, however, is not so straightforward.
Although the transit organization released its mitigation plan last month, several questions still remain.
And commuters, residents and business owners will have an opportunity to provide their input and have their inquiries answered at a series of four public forums hosted by MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT).
The meetings will take place over the next four weeks at various locations along the L line.
MTA will have the opportunity to present its mitigation measures, while DOT will be able to discuss its proposed street redesign and the implementation of bus-only and protected bike lanes.
“These open houses will give local communities the opportunity to learn about the latest mitigation plans and give MTA and NYCDOT officials the opportunity to get feedback from local communities as the plans are developed,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Residents along the L line have been calling on MTA to host public forums for several months.
Although encouraging to involve commuters, Kate Slevin, vice president for advocacy and state programs at the Regional Plan Association, hopes it isn’t too late for residents to have their input implemented.
“We are pleased to see that the MTA is re-engaging with stakeholders, a major recommendation of community members and local [elected officials],” Slevin told the Eagle.
“We hope that it is not too late for the MTA to take other recommendations into account to alter the capital plans to ensure this project brings meaningful changes for riders by upgrading stations and track beyond what the agency currently has planned,” she continued.
The first meeting will take place on Jan. 24 at the Progress High School in East Williamsburg.
The second meeting will take place on Jan. 31 at the 14th Street Y on Manhattan’s East Side.
The third meeting will take place on Feb. 8 at the Williamsburg Community Center.
The final gathering will occur on Feb. 14 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Manhattan’s West Side.
Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director of Riders Alliance, believes that it’s extremely important to have neighborhood level perspective on something as large as the L-train mitigation plan.
He anticipates that MTA will hear a lot about the importance of having a “truly enhanced and superior” shuttle bus service.
“Shuttle bus service needs to be as seamless as possible, and it needs to be as quick and useful as possible and operate as much like a subway as possible with restricted lanes on the bridge, bus-only lanes on the approaches to the bridge and on 14th Street,” Pearlstein told the Eagle.
“We expect that those people will want them in effect 24 hours a day since the L train is very popular all day and all night, not just with commuters, but also people on the weekends going to events in Williamsburg and the East Village,” he said.
The mitigation plan, though still a work in progress, is broken into three categories: subway service, the Williamsburg Bridge and street design.
MTA plans to expand service on the G, M and Z lines, while also extending the length of G and C trains.
To alleviate congestion on the Williamsburg Bridge, MTA will create dedicated bus lanes that connect Grand Street in Brooklyn with the Williamsburg Bridge, Delancey Street and other Manhattan connection points.
MTA will also create high occupancy vehicle restrictions on the overpass during rush hours.
The final piece of the plan is redesigning streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The majority of 14th Street will turn into a car-free “busway.”
In addition, DOT will create Manhattan’s first two-way protected crosstown bike lane along 13th Street.
MTA also plans to make “major changes” to Grand Street in Brooklyn, although the specifics behind those alterations have not been announced.
MTA will also create a new ferry route between North Williamsburg and Stuyvesant Cove on the Manhattan waterfront, and the transit organization will work with Motivate to increase Citi Bike stations along the L line.
“Although we understand the need for the MTA and DOT to hold these four open house sessions, which we hope will attract our constituents so they can question, listen and learn, we’d still like to sit down with the MTA and DOT in smaller group sessions and create an ongoing and productive dialog that features both actual details and realistic solutions,” the L Train Coalition told the Eagle in a joint statement.
The 7,100-foot-long Canarsie Tunnel, which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, will have several parts repaired, including its tracks, signals, switches, power cables and signal cables.
Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.
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