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L Train Service May Be Disrupted While Cuomo Tours Tunnel

Cuomo at a tour of the Union Square subway tracks in June.
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Cuomo at a tour of the Union Square subway tracks in June. Cuomo's Flickr

On Thursday night at midnight, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his own hand-picked team of engineers will tour the Canarsie Tunnel to reevaluate the entire L train reconstruction plan and see if they can find a way to shorten the expected 15 months of work.

During Cuomo's tour, the MTA will take "emergency possession" of one of the tunnels, but trains will still run in both directions.

"Rest assured we'll minimize customer impact," New York City Transit President Andy Byford said Wednesday.

"I think at the end of the day the customers would be appreciative of the fact that we're having a further look to make sure we have covered all the angles," Byford said.

He added, "A short closure to do that is probably time well spent."

The full shutdown, which will fully suspend L service between 8th Avenue in Manhattan and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, is planned to begin on April 27th, 2019.

“I’m going to take a tour to make sure we’re doing everything we can, and explore every option, to reduce any possible disruption,” Cuomo told Brian Lehrer on Monday.

Byford said he looks forward to showing the governor the challenges of working in such a confined tunnel that sustained so much damage from Superstorm Sandy.

"We're look forward to setting out exactly why it is we have the scope of works that we do, what that scope of work will deliver and, the reason that drives the time frame," Byford said.

Byford declined to comment on how flexible the MTA's work plan is for the shutdown but said the engineers will discuss the findings after the tour.

"This plan has been designed to reconstruct the tunnel to not only rectify the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy but also to undertake a whole bunch of other improvements and to fortify that tunnel for the next 30-50 years," he said. "We have to make sure we're comparing apples to apples."

UPDATE: This story was initially published with the headline "Cuomo Will Shut Down L Train Service To Tour L Train Tunnel." The governor's office has since clarified that during Cuomo's tour, the MTA will take "emergency possession" of one of the tunnels, but trains will still run in both directions. The article and headline have been amended accordingly.

An MTA spokesperson explained, "There is ongoing pre-construction and evaluation work related to the L Project until April. During the upcoming engineering evaluation, trains will continue to run in both directions, with one of the two tunnels temporarily closed. The overnight schedule, which normally goes into effect around 1:30AM, will instead begin at 12:01AM. Regular service will resume about 1:30AM and the morning rush will be unaffected."

Stephen Nessen is the transportation reporter for WNYC. You can follow him on Twitter @s_nessen.

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