One tube down, one to go: Cuomo touts quick completion of L train reconstruction’s first phase

Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the newly-reconstructed Manhattan-bound tunnel in the Canarsie Tube on the L line on Sept. 29. (Photos courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office)

BY ROBERT POZARYCKI | Workers kicked off the second half of the L train tunnel rehabilitation project on Monday under budget and three months ahead of schedule, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday.

The governor praised new construction techniques pioneered by overseas transit networks employed to avert the so-called “L-pocalypse” — a total shutdown of the storm-wrecked Canarsie Tube that carries straphangers between Manhattan and Brooklyn aboard the L train — for the rapid pace of construction.

“Today we saw up close what happens when you abandon the old ways of doing things and think outside the box — you get the work done better, faster and cheaper,” Cuomo said on Sept. 29 during a tour of the newly-reconstructed Manhattan-bound tube. “This project will ultimately be a case study for how the MTA needs to operate going forward, especially as they implement the upcoming historic capital plan that will completely modernize the entire system and deliver the 21st century transportation service worthy of New York.”

As part of the first phase of the rehabilitation project, workers installed tens of thousands of feet of new power, communications and signal cables; a new wall structure with a specially reinforced polymer to handle heavy loads; more than a mile of new, continuously welded track; 3,415 feet of discharge pipes and a new fiber optic monitoring system.

Repairs to the Brooklyn-bound tube, which began on Sept. 30, are expected to wrap up next April — bringing the entire project to a finish a full three months ahead of the projected 15- to 18-month timeframe, the governor said.

The Transit Authority originally planned a complete shutdown of the Canarsie Tube to repair damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, arguing that the time and cost savings justified the roughly yearlong interruption to cross-borough service.

However, Cuomo made a surprise announcement in January that the tube would remain open throughout the project, after meeting with academic leaders to review the project and determining that the use of new construction methods and technologies utilized by international transit networks could result in efficient, quick infrastructure repairs.

Governor Cuomo during the Sept. 29 Canarsie Tube tour

Numerous service changes that the MTA made to keep riders moving during the L train project remain in place, the governor noted, including the following:

  • Service on the 7, G and M lines was enhanced on weeknights and weekends, including an extended M train along the Second Avenue Subway line to 96th Street.
  • Enhanced bus service along 14th Street in Manhattan, including additional weeknight and weekend service on the M14 Select Bus Service.
  • Free transfers in Brooklyn between the Livonia Street L train station and the Junius Street 3 train stop; and between the Broadway G train station to the Hewes Street or Lorimer Street stations on the J/M/Z lines.

As the Canarsie Tube project continues, the MTA is also continuing efforts to build new elevators at the Bedford Avenue and First Avenue stations on the L line, and installing a new escalator at the 14th Street-Union Square station.

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