Set your doomsday clocks: The L train shutdown has a start date.
The highly-disruptive closure of L service to and through Manhattan will begin on Saturday, April 27, 2019.
While it was long planned to start in April, an official start date wasn’t yet clear. The MTA and the city announced the news Tuesday in a news release after the MTA had begun informing politicians.
“We’re continuing unprecedented efforts at public outreach, responding to local communities and giving as much notice as possible on key dates in this project,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement. “With the running as a Brooklyn-only service for 15 months starting after the weekend of April 27, we’ve been hard at work with our partners at NYCDOT and other city agencies to make sure that the alternate train, bus, ferry and bicycle networks work together to get people around successfully.”
L train service will still continue from Bedford Avenue to the Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway stations, but more than 225,000 daily L-train riders who rely on the line to get between Manhattan and Brooklyn will be displaced. The MTA plans to boost subway service on nearby lines — where it expects most former L riders to migrate — and will also work with the city to operate five shuttle bus routes for the boroughs and a ferry route between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.
Those alternative bus and ferry options will begin on Sunday, April 21, to give riders a few days to get used to the services. The added subway service, which amounts to more than 1,000 new round trips, will begin the day after the service shutdown, on Sunday, April 28.
The city for its part will operate a 17-hour busway on 14th Street, above where the L runs in Manhattan, and has begun improving cycling infrastructure on each side of the Williamsburg Bridge for riders taking two wheels to work. The MTA and DOT have scrapped plans to implement the bus-only restrictions on 14th Street on Jan. 6 and will now do so on Sunday, April 21. The MTA deferred comment on this change to DOT, which did not provide reasoning for the new date.
“With DOT crews now putting down new street markings for bus lanes and bike lanes, we are deeply committed to having our streets ready for the tunnel closure next April,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement . “From a ‘bus bridge’ over the Williamsburg Bridge to the 14th Street Busway, from more Citi Bikes to expanded pedestrian space for displaced train commuters, we and our MTA partners are up for this enormous challenge.”
To prepare for the rehabilitation of the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel under the East River, which was badly flooded during superstorm Sandy, the MTA will continue its overnight and weekend closures in the coming months — all the way up to the shutdown in April. The authority has a web page with the latest service changes.