L train shutdown plans will be ‘personally’ vetted by Cuomo

The L train shutdown slated for April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans a personal tour of the Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel.
The L train shutdown slated for April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans a personal tour of the Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel. Photo Credit: AMNY/Mark Chiusano

Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed on Monday to review the L train shutdown plan to ensure that both the city and the MTA are doing enough to minimize disruptions for New Yorkers. 

Three years into the planning of the shutdown — and just four months before it starts, on April 27 — Cuomo said he would finally head into the L’s Sandy-damaged Canarsie tunnel late Thursday night.

“I’m going to review it myself. I’m going to bring some fresh eyes to the table. I’m going to have national experts, international experts. I want to be able to say to every New Yorker, ‘I know it’s a pain in the neck. There is no other option; the MTA is right,’ ” Cuomo said.

At this point, the MTA has finalized plans with the city for the 15-month shutdown of L service to and through Manhattan. The MTA will be boosting service on nearby subway lines, which are expected to absorb  about 80 percent of the 225,000 daily riders who currently take the L train under the East River. 

The city will also help to orchestrate alternative bus service during the tunnel rehabilitation, converting 14th Street in Manhattan into an exclusive bus corridor for the majority of the day and implementing HOV3 restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge, which will be used to shuttle roughly 80 buses per hour.

Cuomo said he wasn’t casting doubt on the work the city’s Department of Transportation and the MTA  have already done on the project, and said he didn’t foresee potentially dramatic changes in the scope of work or mitigation plans.

“They went through an exhaustive review,” Cuomo said. “They had a number of community hearings.”

Both MTA Transit President Andy Byford and city DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg ducked reporters’ questions on the governor’s comments at MTA headquarters Monday. 

The governor, who essentially controls the MTA, a state authority, said his trip was more about personal assurance.

“I can’t tell you the number of people in Brooklyn who have … looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Are you sure that there is nothing else that can be done and there’s no way you can possibly shorten this?’ ” Cuomo said. “I said, ‘I will make sure, personally, that there’s nothing else that can be done, and this is the best option.’ ”