Ever since we caught wind of a potential years-long suspension of L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, Brooklyn's Community Board One has been trying to get more information from the MTA—but the board says it hasn't gotten a single reply to any of its emails.

"To date we have sent first requests, second requests, and we're about to send a third request," said Gerald Esposito, the board's district manager, at the full board meeting last night. "We've gotten no answer at all from the MTA, and we've CC-ed every single elected official that represents this district...Do you think the courtesy of a reply is out of order here?"

Specifically, the board wants the MTA to send over its reports on the damage done to the Canarsie Tube during Hurricane Sandy so that it can have an independent engineer propose alternatives to suspending L train service. So far, most of the information that's come out about that damage has been relayed through elected officials who met once with the MTA on February 5th after the community mobilized against a total shutdown. Councilmember Stephen Levin relayed the following to CB1 last month, after that meeting:

It's a very, very serious situation. The Canarsie tube took on millions of gallons of water during Hurricane Sandy that came in through the ventilation system and flooded out that tube and the water sat there for about a week. Salt water as you probably know is incredibly corrosive to electrical equipment and to other materials, and the impact significantly weakened parts of that tube in serious, serious ways.

Minna Elias, New York Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, revealed a few more nuggets from that meeting at a February 24th convening of the L Train Coalition. She said that according to the MTA, seven million gallons of saltwater flooded the tube during Sandy, coming in through both the Bedford Avenue and First Avenue stations.

"They're not ready to divulge any information," Elias said at last night's CB1 meeting after Esposito demanded that the representatives for elected officials come back next month with more information. "Our office has been on top of it asking for a meeting with them so they can sit down and explain everything to us, and they're simply saying they're not ready to do so yet."

In the past, CB1 has prevented local transportation nightmare scenarios from becoming reality by getting independent reviews of government agencies' reports. Esposito said that when the state Department of Transportation wanted to demolish a portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in 2002, the community got funding from Assemblyman Joseph Lentol's office to hire an independent engineer, who presented an alternate plan that allowed repairs to be done without cutting off that artery altogether. The board also commissioned independent reports in 1988, when the city wanted to take down the Williamsburg Bridge and build a new one in its place.

"If we knew the extent of the damage, or if they would release that report—and there has to be a report on the 2012 incident—we could then take that material and...we could be preemptive with whatever the MTA is going to try to sell us," Esposito said.

Of course, what the community would really like to know is what plans the MTA is seriously considering to make the Canarsie Tube repairs, and whether those plans will suspend L service between the boroughs for several years. The MTA has said that it is not ready to make that announcement. It has committed to holding public hearings with community stakeholders on the matter, but no dates for those hearings have yet been set.

"We're not even asking [them] to give us a plan at this point, we just want to know what the problem is," said CB1 member Martin Needelman. "If there weren't any problems, they wouldn't have to do it. So the question is, what information do they have that shows what the problems are?"

We reached out to the MTA to ask about the status of its reports on the tube, and why those haven't be released to the community board, but haven't heard back. We'll update when we do. In the meantime, CB1 is considering submitting a FOIL request to the MTA if it doesn't get any information soon.

UPDATE: Asked whether such reports or studies exist, and if so, why they haven't been released to CB1, MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg said, "The MTA has committed to a public meeting with the affected communities, and we’ll have robust communications with all the elected officials, community groups and others that we want to hear from as we develop our plans."