It’s been two weeks since Governor Andrew Cuomo pulled the breaks on the L train shutdown after a panel of experts deemed a complete closure of the Canarsie Tunnel unnecessary.
But many questions and details have remained unanswered, according to elected officials who penned a joint letter on Monday to express their concerns and demands.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer led the charge of lawmakers that include Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Julia Salazar as well as Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal Jr., among others.
“We truly hope this new plan will be a way forward to alleviate what would otherwise be a far worse 15 months of transit pain for residents and businesses alike,” Adams and Brewer wrote. “However, we must ensure that this new plan will meet the same goals as the previous plan and properly address the infrastructure present in the Canarsie Tunnel.”
The sudden proposed changes, including keeping the tunnels operational with the potential for night and weekend closures over the course of a 15 to 20 month period, followed three years of community engagement and multiple agency planning that resulted in the MTA’s mitigation plan — which Brooklyn pols hope will still be implemented.
“Many of the strategies proposed in the mitigation plan, particularly those that facilitate the use of alternative and public modes of transportation, have applications beyond the L train shutdown and still warrant implementation,” said Reynoso.
MTA’s initial mitigation plan included increased services for subway lines such as the G, J, M or Z, extra train cars to handle the increased volume of riders, free out-of-station transfers, alternative bus service, additional ferry service, Citi Bike expansion, as well as new bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
Additionally, the lawmakers request an independent analysis evaluating the long-term viability of the Canarsie Tunnel, a detailed timeline of completion for the new proposal, as well as a full review of the process that led to the last-minute change.
Reynoso called the timeline in which the decision was made “procedurally problematic.”
“Governor Cuomo’s recently announced amendments to the L train reconstruction project have left New Yorkers with many unanswered questions and a deep sense of disillusionment and mistrust in the decision-making process,” said Reynoso. “Cuomo has yet to produce a full explanation of how this decision came to be made, and why it was not considered previously. Furthermore, he has not made any effort to reassure New Yorkers that this is the best course of action and not just a temporary solution.”
Meanwhile, the MTA confirmed Cuomo’s announcement that a complete shutdown will be off the table.
“The design firm managing the L train project has done extensive work studying the new design alternatives and has informed the MTA that the proposed construction design alternatives are indeed applicable to the L train,” announced the MTA in a statement. “Therefore, the total shutdown of both tunnels and all service scheduled for April 27 will not be necessary. We expect the formulation of the final construction schedule and contract completions to take several weeks; the current construction estimate is 15 to 20 months. As soon as we have more definitive information we will provide it to our customers and the public.”