Earlier this month, we announced L-ternative Visions: Reimagining 14th Street and Beyond, a collaboration between Gothamist and Transportation Alternatives that seeks to harness the talents of urban planners, architects, techies, and transportation wizards like you to create practical solutions to the coming L train shutdown.

Today, the contest officially launches, so we're re-upping with info on how to submit, our jury, and prizes. We're also announcing our launch event, which will be held September 26th from 6:30-8:30 PM at Town and Village Synagogue at 334 East 14th Street. The event will feature an intro to the competition, speeches from elected officials, and breakout sessions on different approaches to the problem.

Background: In January 2019, the MTA will suspend all L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and halt L service within Manhattan, severing a vital transportation artery used by an estimated 225,000 commuters each day and sending shockwaves across the city. During the shutdown, which is expected to last 18 months, the MTA will repair the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries the L under the East River and suffered extensive damage when it flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

The Goal: Reimagine 14th Street as a people-first transit corridor that can meet the demands of an L-less Manhattan; create new public transit options for L riders commuting from Brooklyn; and offer a blueprint for high- capacity, environmentally sustainable, and human-scale city streets.

The Rules: Participants in L-ternative Visions can submit to one of two tracks:

Jury Track: Submissions to the Jury Track will offer ideas for robust L-ternatives that move as many people as possible on 14th Street while mitigating impacts to neighboring streets and reducing car volume. The best submissions will involve measures to restrict automobile traffic along and around 14th Street, prioritize high-capacity modes of transportation, improve pedestrian access, and strive to accommodate the needs of New Yorkers with disabilities. If you’re an architect, a designer, or an urban planning student looking for a worthy semester project, this track’s for you.

The Jury Track submission form is available here.

Jury Track winners will be selected by a jury of transit and transportation experts, urban designers, advocates, and community stakeholders, all of whom are esteemed stewards of the public realm in New York City. The jury includes:

Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives
Jen Chung, Gothamist
David Bragdon, Transit Center
David van der Leer, Van Alen Institute
Shin-pei Tsay, Gehl Institute
Masha Burina, Riders Alliance
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
Councilmember Dan Garodnick
Councilmember Rosie Mendez
State Senator Brad Hoylman
Miodrag Mitrasinovic, The New School
Susan Steinberg, Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association
Kate Slevin, Regional Plan Association
Keith Berger, 1 Northside Piers

More jurors will be added in the coming weeks.

Reader’s Choice: The shutdown of the L will be felt all across the city, but the denizens of northern and eastern Brooklyn will be most heavily impacted. Submissions to the Reader’s Choice track will offer focused solutions for areas beyond 14th Street. The best Reader’s Choice submissions will offer a solution to a specific challenge, such as getting commuters to the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn or connecting them from Delancey Street up to 14th. We expect a wide range of ideas—added bike lanes, new bus routes, restrictions on car or truck access to affected areas, and so on. If you’re an amateur urban planner, a BRT junkie, a worried L rider, or a concerned citizen with a clever idea, this is the track for you.

The Reader's Choice submission form is available here.

The winners of the Reader’s Choice track will be chosen by our readers. At the end of the contest, Gothamist and Transportation Alternatives, in consultation with the jury, will select our five favorite submissions, which we will put to a public vote.

Intersection of 14th and 2nd. Photo courtesy of Transportation Alternatives.


Readers Choice: Winner will receive an Annual MetroCard, an Elby bicycle, and a year’s free entry to all Transportation Alternatives events, including parties and group bike rides.

Jury Track: The Jury Track winner and runners-up will receive cash prizes:

1st Prize: $5,000
2nd Prize: $3,000
3rd Prize: $2,000

Winning submissions from both tracks will be featured on Gothamist.com. The winner of the Jury Track will also receive a private audience with planning officials from the New York City Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the New York City Department of City Planning.

Dates: All submissions will be due by 11:59 PM on January 8, 2017. Finalists will be announced January 20th, and the winners will be announced at the closing event in February. All finalists will receive placement at the closing event.

Fees: There is no fee to enter the Reader’s Choice track. For the Jury Track, there is a $50 fee for firms and individuals, and $25 for students, young professionals (under age 35), and non-profit organizations. All submitters receive a free annual membership to Transportation Alternatives. There is no limit on the number of designs an individual or organization can submit.

The full design brief laying out further details of the competition, as well as dates of workshops for participants, is available here.

The Gehl Institute and Van Alen Institute are presenting partners of L-ternative Visions.