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F train tunnel repairs coming soon, will affect DUMBO commuters

July 23, 2020 Raanan Geberer
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Work on the Rutgers Street tunnel — the final subway tunnel under the East River that needed to be rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy — is slated to begin next month, the MTA says.

And although the MTA promises minimal disruptions, straphangers who use the isolated, often overcrowded York Street station in DUMBO are certain to be inconvenienced late at night and on some weekends.

The tunnel carries the F train between York Street in Brooklyn to East Broadway in Manhattan. The announcement comes on the heels of the completion in April of controversial repair work on the L train’s East River tunnel. That announcement, which normally would have been cause for celebration, was overshadowed by the coronavirus.

While the Rutgers Street tunnel is named after the Lower East Side street where it begins on the Manhattan side, most of the East River subway tunnels in Downtown Brooklyn are named after their Brooklyn starting points.

The platform of the F train’s York Street subway station. Wikimedia photo by Marcin Wichary

There’s the Cranberry Street tunnel, which carries the A train; the Clark Street tunnel, which carries the 2 and 3 trains; the Montague Street tunnel, which carries the R train; and the Joralemon Street tunnel, which carries the 4 and 5 lines. In Downtown Brooklyn, the lines are all within 1.3 miles of each other, but they spread out once they reach Lower Manhattan.

“The [Rutgers tunnel] project will use lessons learned from the L-train project that will allow the work to be done during overnight hours and on weekends, averting the need to fully close the tube,” the MTA said.

Major work is slated to get underway in September, after prep work in August. The job will include the replacement of tracks, signal equipment, cables, tunnel lighting and pumps. It will also provide a backup generator connected to the pumps, important since the tube was inundated with 1.5 million gallons of water during Sandy.

The East Broadway and York Street stations will be closed on “select weekday evenings after 10 p.m., as well as select weekends, where work is underway,” the MTA said. At those times, the F trains will be rerouted onto the A/C line between Borough Hall and West 4th Street.

The York Street station, built in the 1930s when DUMBO was mainly industrial, is inadequate, and potentially dangerous, for today’s booming DUMBO residential area, according to neighborhood advocates. During rush hour, the station’s only entrance, via a narrow set of stairs, becomes jam-packed with commuters.

Last year, the Eagle reported, members of the DUMBO BID and the DUMBO Action Committee collected about 1,500 signatures in a drive to provide a second entrance to the station.

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