After extensive community outreach, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) opted to permanently shutdown the L train between Bedford and First avenues for 18 months to repair a tunnel damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) are now conducting outreach with riders to determine the best alternatives. Implementation will begin in first quarter of 2019.
MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek promised transparency and collaboration “to make sure that whatever we decide to do is a reflection of the needs and concerns and desires of the community and what’s best for them.”
“We’re talking about possible alternatives for L train riders, but the most important thing about tonight is that we’re here to get feedback from the local community,” Tarek said. “That’s how we’re going to make this the best project it can be.”
The Williamsburg event was the first of four workshops the agencies plan to host throughout the project area.
At the meeting, attendees were separated into smaller groups of about 10 to learn about the preliminary options being considered.
It's estimated that approximately 80 percent of the 225,000 daily L train riders will utilize other subways for their commutes.
Subway service will therefore be increased on the G, J and M lines. There will also be free transfers between the Broadway G and Lorimer Street JMZ stops.
Also under consideration is a temporary ferry from North 6th Street in Brooklyn to 20th Street in Manhattan. The ferry could handle approximately 1,200 riders per hour.
Vanessa Barrios, an associate planner with the Regional Plan Association, was advocating for her group’s proposal created in conjunction with the Riders Alliance.
The proposal was based on surveys from 2,000 riders and dozens of meetings with elected officials and community stakeholders.
Their proposal calls for improving access at all L train stations prior to the shutdown, closing all or significant portions of 14th Street in Manhattan, and dedicated bus lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge.
One of the more controversial proposals in the plan calls for the closure of crowded streets in Williamsburg, such as Bedford Avenue and Grand Street, to private automobiles.
There has been a lot of opposition from business owners on Grand Street, which seems to be the opposite of business owners on Manhattan’s 14th Street, who are in support of shutdown, said Barrios.
Walter Hook, who lives near the Lorimer stop in Williamsburg, is worried about the impact the shutdown will have on the community.
“If the service isn’t replaced with some kind of dedicated alternative service bus, it’s going to traffic chaos,” he said. “It’s going to be very harmful economically to north Brooklyn.”