For years the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said that in order to repair the damage in the Canarsie Tunnel caused by Hurricane Sandy, the L Train would have to be shutdown from Williamsburg to Manhattan for at least 15 months. To facilitate this new bus routes, ferries, and bike lanes would be added. Services on the G, J, Z, and M subway lines would be increrased. Truck traffic would be diverted off Grand Street (as much as possible) onto Bushwick Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, and Lorimer Street, and loading zones would have been added all along Grand Street. The shutdown was supposed to go into effect on April 27, 2019. Then on January 3rd, Governor Cuomo announces that those years of planning were completely unnecessary. Thanks to new technology, the work can be completed overnight and on weekends. There will be no shutdown after all. The L Train tunnel project recommendations are as follows:
- Implement a new power and control system design.
- Implement racking system design to suspend cables on side of tunnel.
- Decouple cable system housing from benchwall.
- Jacket cables with low smoke, zero halogen fireproof material.
- Abandon all old cables in benchwall.
- Leave benchwall unless structurally compromised and fortify using fiber reinforced polymer.
- Install “smart” sensor systems to monitor benchwall integrity.
- Install walkway where benchwall is removed.
- Increase flood resilience measures.
- Enhance public safety.
The benefits to these recommendations supposedly include:
- New system design achieves all functional outcomes, while reducing work and allowing simultaneous, not sequential execution of critical tasks
- Racking system will allow greater access to cables for inspection or future upgrades
- Installation of smart sensor system will allow for monitoring on a continuous basis rather than a periodic basis.
- Upgrades to the pump system and rail will occur in tandem with the cable and benchwall work.
- Dramatic reduction in non-value added project scope (i.e. avoiding complete removal and reconstruction of the benchwall)
- Enhanced safety and functionality of the project.
- Enhanced flood resilience.
- This new system design approach can be potentially applied to other projects, such as the Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 and Hudson River Train Tunnels.
So, some questions. Why did the governor wait till the last minute to reveal this new plan? Will he step in at the last minute to change other projects, such as the BQE? Does the Amazon HQ2 deal have something to do with this? Does falling demand for Williamsburg apartments have something to do with this? What about all the street redesigns, and preparations made by City DOT? Will the newly painted Grand Street revert to normal? Will enforcement cease? Will there be more parking? Will HOV 3 continue? Will it only occur at night and weekends? What about service on the other subway lines? Will businesses who chose to relocate or not to renew a lease due to the shutdown receive compensation in anyway?
Overall this looks to be a good thing but there are many questions that need answering. Furthermore, this process of not including stakeholders in decisions that directly affect them cannot continue! We will update as we receive more information.