After months of pleading from stakeholders whose homes and businesses lie along the L train, the MTA has finally agreed to hold two public meetings on repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel—work that could require a shutdown of service between Brooklyn and Manhattan for two to seven years, depending on whether that shutdown is complete or partial. The first meeting will take place on Thursday, May 5th, at 6 p.m. at the Marcy Avenue Armory (355 Marcy Avenue). The second meeting, to be held in Manhattan later in May, has yet to be announced.

At the public meetings, the MTA will detail the construction approaches under consideration, and will allow community members to discuss their concerns with representatives from the Authority.

In announcing these meetings, the MTA also confirmed reports that the shutdown likely won't begin until 2019, though it was careful to specify that a 24/7 closure before January 2019 is unlikely, meaning there's still a chance that work on nights or weekends could begin before then.

"The reconstruction of the Canarsie Tunnel will be an unprecedented response to an unprecedented natural disaster and will unfortunately lead to substantial inconvenience for many of our customers," MTA NYCT President Veronique Hakim said in a statement yesterday. "We are committed to working hand in hand with the community to inform our decision on construction alternatives and to replace as much service as we can during this unavoidable reconstruction project."

Since Gothamist first broke news of the potentially years-long total shutdown, advocates at the L Train Coalition and Brooklyn's Community Board 1 have been demanding more information from the MTA. At one of the Coalition's first meetings in February, an MTA representative was present, but was not able to answer any of the public's questions regarding the shutdown. Since then, the Coalition has asked repeatedly for transparent communication with the MTA, among other demands. Meanwhile, CB1 has been asking the MTA for its reports detailing the damage to the tube, but has faced resistance.

The tunnel suffered serious damage when it was flooded with seven million gallons of water during Hurricane Sandy. The MTA needs to repair tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts, and bench walls, to name a few; it will also install new stairs and elevators at the Bedford Avenue and First Avenue stations, and add new electric substations that will allow more trains to run during rush hours.

Though it initially appeared that the shutdown would only affect service between Manhattan and Brooklyn, it now seems that all crosstown service in Manhattan may be suspended during repairs. And before work on the L train can begin, the MTA has to repair sections of the M train in anticipation of increased ridership—work that may displace dozens of Bushwick residents for at least six months.

As Councilmember Stephen Levin pointed out in February, the MTA needs to decide on a plan sooner rather than later to avoid losing the approximately $700 million in federal funds that is currently available for Sandy-related repairs. With that in mind, the MTA is hoping to procure design and construction services this year.

"In order for there to be trust, there must first be communication," Levin said in a statement yesterday. "Thousands of straphangers are trusting those in charge to listen to their needs."