F train tunnel next in line for Superstorm Sandy rehabilitation, if board approves: MTA

traffic safety
An F train at its terminus for overnight cleaning in Coney Island station back in early May. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

With work still pending for the F train’s Rutgers Tunnel, the MTA plans to move the $90.5 million project ahead using federal funds for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs; but only after it gets the go-ahead from board members at Wednesday’s board meeting.

The project takes techniques adopted to restore the Canarsie Tunnel to a state of good repair, but has not been the topic of as much anxiety for commuters who take the tube between downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan. In fact, the MTA hopes to take advantage of the current state of low ridership to complete the repairs with little disruption.

“The L train project demonstrated that the MTA can deliver major projects much faster and at less cost than anybody expected,” Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development, said. “Now, with the Rutgers (F Train) tube, we’re on a mission to prove that we can make it the norm, as we continue to embrace advanced technologies and private sector development techniques.”

Though the repair work will be covered by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, it is not clear how well the proposal to move the project forward will be accepted by the MTA board which last month revealed that the agency faces a $10 billion deficit. The U.S. Senate has also failed to push the Heroes Act through which would provide $3.9 billion, enough to get the MTA through the remainder of 2020.

in early 2019, the MTA under the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the brakes on a 15-month plan to close the L train entirely, which northern Brooklyn had been bracing for over the course of a few years. Instead, the state opted for a plan from Cornell University to coat the bench-walls of the tunnels with fiber-reinforced polymers during overnight and weekend schedules.

From August 2020 to March 2021, the MTA plans to reroute service on the F line overnight to the C train between Jay Street-MetroTech and W 4th Street and along the E line from W 4th Street to 36th Street in Queens.

How many passengers this is predicted to displace has not been released.

Ridership, however, is still limping its way back from the worst of the COVID-19 crisis that continues to wane, but remains a threat to the health of New Yorkers. At its height, the pandemic cut the MTA’s ridership by 90%.