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MTA Announces Second Public Meeting on Reconstruction of L Line’s Canarsie Tunnel

Passengers wait for L Train

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced a second public meeting to discuss future reconstruction work on the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries the L Subway train under the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Theatre at 120 West 14th Street in Manhattan. 

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and MTA New York City Transit President Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim made the announcement in conjunction with elected officials representing 14th Street in Manhattan, including U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, New York State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, New York State Assembly members Brian Kavanagh, Deborah J. Glick and Richard N. Gottfried, New York City Council Members Rosie Mendez, Dan Garodnick and Corey Johnson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“Superstorm Sandy caused unprecedented damage to our infrastructure and the Canarsie Tunnel likely suffered the greatest damage of all,” President Hakim said.  “A project as impactful as this one requires extensive engagement with all of the communities that will be affected.  With the announcements of this Manhattan public meeting and the previously announced Brooklyn meeting, we have officially launched the effort to solicit feedback from the public on potential construction options and ideas for alternative service to mitigate impacts on L Subway train riders.”

Any 24/7 closure of the Canarsie Tunnel’s two tubes is unlikely to begin before January of 2019, leaving ample time for both the selection of a construction plan and the development of service alternatives.  At the same time, procurement of design and construction services for the project must begin to move forward this year to ensure that hundreds of millions of federal dollars that have been secured by Rep. Maloney, Rep. Nadler and the entire New York Congressional delegation are not lost. 

MTA New York City Transit is weighing the operational and engineering impacts of multiple proposals for rebuilding the Canarsie Tunnel’s two tubes. The public meetings will include an in-depth discussion of the potential construction approaches currently under consideration. They will also include an open house at which community members can discuss their concerns with MTA staff; a presentation from MTA and NYC Transit leadership and technical staff; and a question and answer period.

The first meeting, announced Monday, will be held on Thursday, May 5 at 6 p.m. at the Marcy Avenue Armory in Brooklyn.  Following the meetings, MTA will continue an aggressive community engagement process – meeting with residents, businesses, community boards, merchant groups and civic associations in Brooklyn and Manhattan communities along the L Subway line.

The Canarsie Tunnel suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long flooded section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections must be rehabilitated to protect the structural integrity of the tubes.

During this rehabilitation process, the MTA will also make significant improvements to stations and tunnel segments closest to the under-river section. New stairs and elevators will be installed at the Bedford Av station in Brooklyn and the 1 Av station in Manhattan, and three new electric substations will be installed, providing more power to operate additional trains during rush hours.

MTA New York City Transit has taken several steps to ensure the Canarsie Tunnel remain reliable until permanent repairs can be performed. The agency is inspecting the tunnel’s walls more frequently, and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption.

The Canarsie Tunnel was one of nine underwater tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy, all of which required extensive rehabilitation and repair. Some of that work has been accomplished during night and weekend closures, while the R Subway line’s Montague Tunnel under the East River was closed for more than a year and the G Subway line tunnel under Newtown Creek was closed for two months, both for complete renovations.