Tense emergency MTA Board meeting called to discuss L-train reversal
An emergency meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board was anything but friendly, according to reports.
Crain’s New York reported that “collateral damage” from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “abrupt reversal” of the infamous 15-month L-train shutdown unraveled Monday during what news outlets referred to as a “long” and “testy” emergency meeting of the board.
The meeting was called so that WSP — a leading engineering services firm which worked on the previous shutdown plan and has since backed the new one — could answer questions about the new plan’s safety and efficiency.
But the board’s concerns ran the gamut, Crain’s reported, with the city’s transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg going as far as to question the board’s role and the actual status of the new proposal.
“The board has had no vote on changing the contract,” she said. “Was the decision made? Do we have any actual role here?”
Acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer responded that once there is a change in the contract, he would be happy to bring it before the board, to which Trottenberg reportedly replied, “We can vote no?”
Cuomo surprised New York City straphangers during a press conference on Jan. 3 by announcing that the long-planned shutdown of the L train — originally slated to begin on April 27 due to damage sustained to the Canarsie Tunnel during Superstorm Sandy —will not happen as originally planned.
Instead, new tunnel construction technology — which was proposed by Columbia and Cornell Universities’ engineering departments — will be used, eliminating the need for a full closure — something Cuomo called “a major breakthrough.”
Still, the back and forth has been met with backlash.
“Intensive public outreach and collaboration with stakeholders and partners such as [the New York City Department of Transportation], and an unprecedented focus on customer service, have been hallmarks of this project, and I know that President [Andy] Byford and his excellent team will continue to deliver that critical commitment,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim in a statement.
Additional reporting contributed by Sara Bosworth and Jaime DeJesus.