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Byford right to check Gov. Cuomo’s plan for the L train

The head of NYC Transit said he will

The head of NYC Transit said he will have consultants review Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to avoid a full shutdown of the L train for tunnel repairs later this year. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

The next step on the L train’s wild ride is now clear.

NYC Transit President Andy Byford will bring in his own consultants to investigate the Canarsie tunnel fixes Gov. Andrew Cuomo surprisingly announced last week.

Byford’s approach is a good move. We applaud imagination and innovation when it comes to the MTA, but the authority should proceed carefully with fixing the East River crossing that was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Riders need minimal disruptions while things get fixed, but also a job well done.

The tantalizing eleventh-hour Cuomo plan consists of a series of high-tech and somewhat unorthodox fixes that he said would prevent the expected shutdown of much of the L starting in April. Byford says individuals previously not involved with the L closure will analyze technical aspects of Cuomo’s plan. He says he’ll make an interim report to the MTA board later this month if the full analysis isn’t finished. He’s right not to rush the review.

There are plenty of other complications in the meantime, including figuring out the federal government’s role in funding the new L plan.

Meanwhile, the MTA and city officials should go ahead with plans to ease any disruption in L service — whether the East River crossing is shut down completely, or there are only disruptions on nights and weekends, as Cuomo proposes.

That includes more bus service and ferries, and more bus and bike lanes. Byford has said most ancillary work — like station improvements, accessibility construction and power upgrades — would still happen during nights-and-weekends service disruptions, which is essential. The city Department of Transportation, which oversees some of the aboveground improvements, has said that as the L plan develops, it will “look at our planned efforts to make sure we are implementing the right elements.”

Big-picture transportation improvements are needed as the city grows and more demand is placed on its transit system. Even if the L is affected only in “off hours,” thousands of riders will need alternative plans.


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