Yesterday, we noted that the MTA RFP'd for extensive work to repair the R train's East River tunnel leftover Hurricane Sandy damage. What they didn't mention is that the tunnel will be shut down for at least a year! The MTA says that the Montague Tube will be closed for up to 14 months starting the first week in August.
Back in October, Sandy's surges flooded the Montague Tube, a mile-long pair of tunnels that connects Brooklyn Heights with Lower Manhattan; the "massive inflow of corrosive salt water" left tracks, signals and electrical components submerged for days.
Straphangers will be able to use existing free transfers to any of the adjacent subway lines to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. “The temporary repairs that returned [this tube] to operation after Sandy are not enough to provide reliable service," said MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer. "This is unfortunately the reality of recovery from Sandy: the damage is insidious and continuing, and repairing it will take billions of dollars over several years. We recognize that these closures will be an inconvenience for many of our customers, and we will do our best to provide them with alternatives. But there is no alternative to doing this work now.”
“Even after we restored service through the tubes again, signal and other component failures rose dramatically,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, MTA Interim Executive Director. “The chief area of concern is the tubes’ mechanical and electrical systems that were subjected to salt water accelerating the deterioration of these vital systems and reducing their reliability over time.”
Ted Mann of the Wall Street Journal calls this “the biggest post-Sandy setback for the MTA.” And of course, these repairs don't take into account anything that would stop the tunnel from being flooded during another superstorm—so let's all cross our fingers and hope that we don't get another Sandy (although we probably will).
Below, R train riders can take a glimpse at what their future commute is going to be like.
On weekdays, the R will run in two sections during this time, from Forest Hills-71st Street in Queens to Whitehall Street in Manhattan, and from Court Street to Bay Ridge-95th Street in Brooklyn. The estimated 65,000 daily riders affected will be accommodated by trains running between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the 2345ABCDFN and Q lines, all of which are accessible from the R train’s final four stations in Brooklyn. On weekends, the R will be re-routed over the Manhattan Bridge serving all stations with the exception of Court Street and Jay-Street-MetroTech in Brooklyn and the City Hall, Cortlandt, Rector, and Whitehall Street stations in Lower Manhattan. Overnights, the N which is normally re-routed through the tunnel to replace the R, will instead continue to operate over the Manhattan Bridge at all times.