In a bit of good news for people who rely on the L train to get around, newly released documents from the MTA show that the shutdown of the Canarsie Tube between Brooklyn and Manhattan will now last 15 months instead of 18 months. In addition, the beginning of the tunnel shutdown has been pushed back from January 2019 to April 2019.
Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas was the first to notice that the change in plans for the tunnel shutdown, tweeting that MTA board materials showed that the tunnel would close starting in April instead of January.
Also it seems that the L train shutdown timeline has been pushed back. Board materials indicate an April 2019 closure date for the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/N6UoqZIYrF
— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) March 17, 2017
The news in Kabak's tweet was confirmed by MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco, who also tweeted that the shutdown would last 15 months instead of 18, and would start in January instead.
Canarsie Tunnel closure now only 15 months instead of 1.5 years. Starts April 2019; better for L train riders all around
— Beth DeFalco (@BethDeFalco) March 17, 2017
In a press release, the MTA stated that they would award a $477 million contract to Judlau Contracting Inc. and TC Electric which has "$15 million in incentives to complete the tunnel project in 15 months." In addition to the sped up construction timeline, the press release said that the agency will make station improvements to the 1st Avenue and Bedford Avenue stations to improve customer flow, including the installation of new elevators and stairways.
What's unknown at the moment is what options the city will go with in order to mitigate the pain from the total shutdown between Brooklyn and Manhattan, which has local business owners dreading the impact two years before repairs even start. Local politicians have asked the MTA and Department of Transportation to look into making 14th Street car-free, an idea that Bill de Blasio said the city would at least look into. A study from NYU's Rudin School for Transportation suggested the city could partner in some way with ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft and ramp up its own bus, train and ferry service. And in somewhat more outlandish scenarios, there's the East River Gondola, or this weird giant condom that would allow people to walk across the East River.