L train could face Manhattan-Brooklyn shutdowns in 2017

The L train arrives at the Bedford Avenue subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on April 16, 2015.
The L train arrives at the Bedford Avenue subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on April 16, 2015. Photo Credit: iStock

L train riders could start facing service shutdowns between Manhattan and Brooklyn next year while the MTA repairs Superstorm Sandy damage — work that could take more than three years, according to transit officials.

The MTA is considering fully closing one half of the L Train’s Canarsie Tube at a time, the officials said.

The state authority is looking at extra M train service, adding more cars to the G train line and using shuttle buses to move riders during the shutdowns. Officials have not decided yet when in 2017 the work would start.

“We are still weighing our options, so nothing is set in stone,” according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “This is critically important work that needs to be done to ensure the reliability of service moving forward.”

The L train line carries more than 225,000 riders through the Canarsie Tube on weekdays between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

A total of 300,000 passengers use the line in the two boroughs.

R train riders faced a 13-month tunnel shutdown between Manhattan and Brooklyn from 2013 to 2014 because of Superstorm Sandy damage.

But MTA board member Andrew Albert said those riders had other transfer options that L train passengers just don’t have.

“For the L, nothing parallels it. There would have to be some really involved service plans on the G and the M,” said Albert, who chairs the Transit Riders Council. “The L is extremely frequent, and has a huge amount of riders. It would be hard to place those riders elsewhere. Not impossible, but difficult. This puts several growing communities in a bind.”

Documents on the MTA website suggest riders will endure the work for 40 months, more than 3 years.

“The L train carries the smartest and most creative people in the city,” said Mitchell Moss, the director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation. “If we close down the L train, Manhattan firms would rush to lease Brooklyn workspace or risk losing their most talented employees.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he was very concerned about the impact of tunnel closures on L train riders and economic growth in Brooklyn. He said he wanted to meet with the MTA and other community leaders.

“This is traumatizing,” said Adams, who hopes the Canarsie Tube won’t completely close down and would like to see new bike lanes and a dedicated bus lane on the Williamsburg Bridge during the work.

“Forty months without the L train is something extremely difficult to swallow, particularly when you see the boom in the Williamsburg area now,” he said. “It will shut down the economic growth that’s been taking place in the community.”

(With Ivan Pereira)

Other tube work

  • The MTA shut down the R train’s Montague Tube for 13 months. The tunnel is almost 2 miles long and was hit by 27 million gallons of salt water during Superstorm Sandy. It is used by 65,000 daily riders.
  • The MTA closed the G train’s Greenpoint Tube for five months. It was damaged by 3 million gallons of salt water and is used by 55,000 riders a day.
  • The MTA is repairing the Cranberry Tube over 10 weekends this year. It is 1.6 miles long and was hit with 1.5 million gallons of salt water. It is used by 130,000 riders a day.

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