The MTA plans to shutter L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 total weekends leading up to the L train shutdown next spring.
The Saturday and Sunday closures are billed as necessary to prepare for the 15-month shutdown of the L line to and through Manhattan. The L line will close this weekend, but then resume regular weekend service until October.
The work will “ensure reliable service for L riders during the tunnel reconstruction” and “ensure the project duration stays within 15 months,” according to a slide in an MTA and Department of Transportation document.
“This weekend we are undertaking extensive work on the L line and that means the service will turn back from Broadway Junction back to Rockaway,” said NYC Transit president Andy Byford at a news conference on the L train shutdown earlier Monday. “Why is that you might ask? It’s so that we can install signaling adjustments whereby the trains can turn back at Bedford Avenue once the closure’s up and running.”
Byford, who did not reference the number of planned weekend closures, said that crews would also take advantage of the weekend outages to perform “super-maintenance” on elements of the tracks and stations.
“It’s also so that we can progressively — and this is going to be a pattern going forward between now and April . . . provide sort of super-maintenance to switches, to signals to track, to escalators, to elevators to pieces of equipment, to assets that will without question be worked way harder during the closure and that we cannot afford to fail,” Byford said.
L train service under the East River will stop for each weekend in October as well as the second and third weekends of November. In 2019, L service will also close for each weekend in February and the first three weekends in March. The MTA also plans to shut the service down for the weekend of April 13 and 14.
Executives at the authority have long stated that the 15-month shutdown would begin in April 2019, but it’s unclear exactly when it will begin that month. An authority spokesman did not provide a specific date for the closure.
Elected officials joined Byford and Polly Trottenberg, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner, on Monday morning for a bus ride to preview alternative service plans for the shutdown that will displace roughly 225,000 daily commuters who depend on the L to get between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Those officials felt there was still more work to be done before the closure.
“I think as time goes on we’ll have to do a dry run sometime much closer to the date,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin said the agencies need to be ready to make adjustments once alternative service plans take effect.
“It’s going to continue to take a lot of work and we’re going to make sure that, as this is moving forward, that we’re conscious enough of the impacts and the challenges so that we can make adjustments in real time and on the fly,” Levin said. “It’s a very complex situation with so many different transportation impacts on our roads and our MTA system.”