The L train shutdown will be sending hundreds of thousands of commuters off the rails between Manhattan and Brooklyn come 2019.
The 18-month closure is needed to make critical Superstorm Sandy related repairs to the Canarsie tunnel under the East River, which took on seven million gallons of corrosive saltwater during the storm, according to the MTA. But the work is essential as it is disruptive—the MTA has described it as the most impactful project in its history.
The dire circumstances of cutting L service to and through Manhattan, which 225,000 daily riders rely on, has sparked some creative alternative proposals, perhaps out of desperation. Either way, advocates are hopeful that the shutdown could force the city and the MTA to finally give surface-level transit, like buses and bikes, its due focus.
“I think without a doubt we want creative solutions, an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Masha Burina, a community organizer at Riders Alliance. “We need to think of the growing demands on the line — not just, ‘How are we going to survive throughout the shutdown?’ but ‘How are we going to be able to thrive afterwards?’”
In May, MTA committed to bolstering its nearby subway service and is now hashing out strategies with outside parties.
“Since the spring we have been working with the community, elected officials and other stakeholders to develop a robust outreach plan that will address service alternatives and minimize impacts on L line riders,” said MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco in an email. “Chairman Prendergast and our team have constant conversations with city, state and federal officials about options for the L line.”
Commuters should expect concrete alternatives to be announced more than a year ahead of the shutdown, MTA sources said.
Here’s the rundown of alternative proposals, from wildly fantastical, to the highly plausible:
East River Skyway
Subway service improvements
Newtown Creek water shuttles