Cuomo’s L train tour will cause commuting delays Thursday, MTA says

The governor's Canarsie tunnel tour comes three years into planning, and four months before the L train shutdown is scheduled to begin.
The governor’s Canarsie tunnel tour comes three years into planning, and four months before the L train shutdown is scheduled to begin.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s last-minute involvement in the L train shutdown will cost riders some time on their commutes Thursday.

L train riders can expect longer waits for about a 90-minute period beginning around midnight into Friday morning as Cuomo and a team of inspectors survey the line’s Canarsie tunnel to ensure that a 15-month shutdown for superstorm Sandy-related repairs  is absolutely necessary. The tour comes roughly three years into planning the shutdown, and about four months before it starts.

“The fact that there will be people in the tunnel will mean that we need to have an emergency possession,” said MTA Transit President Andy Byford. “But rest assured we will be minimizing the customer impact.”

During the tour, one of the tunnel’s two tracks will be closed, with trains taking turns running in both directions on the other track, according to MTA spokesman Shams Tarek.

“The overnight schedule, which normally goes into effect around 1:30 a.m., will instead begin at 12:01 a.m.” to accomodate the tour, Tarek said in a statement. “Regular service will resume about 1:30  a.m. and the morning rush will be unaffected.”

During that overnight schedule, L trains will run every 20 minutes in each direction. 

Cuomo mentioned Monday during an appearance on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show that he would be going down into the tunnel to ensure that the MTA and the city had explored every option in repairing the badly damaged tunnel, which carries 225,000 riders between Manhattan and Brooklyn on an average day.

“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 during the radio appearance.

Byford said he was looking forward to having his team show Cuomo around.

“The governor will be undertaking a tour of the L line tunnel tomorrow night in conjunction with some expertise that he’s brought in, but also in conjunction with our expert team,” Byford said after an MTA board meeting Wednesday, “so that we can show them what the specifics are of the tunnel and particularly the challenges that we face with what is a very confined tunnel [with] quite substantial damage.”

The dreaded shutdown of L service to and through Manhattan is expected to start April 27. The MTA worked with the city’s Department of Transportation to craft an alternative service plan involving increased service on other nearby subway lines and alternative shuttle bus routes, among other options.

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