Friday, January 4, 2019

To L and back: Reactions and questions over Gov. Cuomo's surprise subway announcement

In a surprise move yesterday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the L-train won't be completely shut down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for Sandy-related repairs in April after all.

With this new plan, workers will repair the Canarsie tunnel one tube at a time on nights and weekends, with one track remaining open for service... all over the course of 15 to 20 months.

According to Cuomo, crews will install cables on racks along the inside of the tunnels, and leave the old cables where they are. Per various published reports, the workaround relies on the use of a fiber reinforced plastic, which hasn’t been used in the United States for this type of tunnel repair.

There are questions about all this...


Gersh Kuntzman at Streetsblog has the best post (link here) on answering some questions raised following yesterday's presser.

Meanwhile, here's reaction from two local elected officials...

Sen. Brad Hoylman:

“As the State Senator who represents the entire stretch of the L train in Manhattan, I welcome any alternative to the L-train tunnel shutdown that repairs the tunnel within the current project timeline and maintains train service, while eliminating the need for hundreds of additional dirty diesel buses in our neighborhoods and traffic on side streets.

That said, after three years of planning and community input, my constituents have reason to be circumspect about the details. It’ll be the job of the new Senate Democratic majority along with our Assembly colleagues to provide sufficient oversight of the MTA and this plan.

In addition, we must continue to push for more reliable train and bus service, planned upgrades to our station and bike infrastructure, and work toward the ultimate goal of reducing car traffic through congestion pricing.”

District 2 City Councilmember Carlina Rivera:

“While I believe that the State and MTA are committed to providing the best L train plan for New Yorkers, I am disappointed that today’s news was announced without warning and with nowhere near enough detail, after years of careful planning by our communities.

Residents in my District are now in the dark about how they will be impacted by this new plan, and I am worried that many New Yorkers unnecessarily moved from affected areas and local small businesses suffered preparing for the expected shutdown.

In my discussions with MTA officials [yesterday] afternoon, I did hear some encouraging information, including potentially less noise and construction along 14th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue B. But I am still left with more questions than answers.

As we learn more and weigh the dramatic impact this plan will have on our city, I am calling on the City Council to hold hearings this month on this plan so we and the public can have our questions fully answered from State and agency officials well ahead of the plan’s commencement.

In addition, the city Department of Transportation must stay the course with that the current L Train Alternative Service Plan, including new bike lanes, bus routes, and protected bus corridors, until the public and advocates are able to process and comment on this new plan.

But regardless of how the L Train Tunnel repair goes, our State and City agencies must deeply evaluate how the mishandling of these announcements continues to erode public trust in our most important institutions, and work to redouble their efforts with our communities.”

At an unrelated event yesterday, Mayor de Blasio said that "anything that avoids disruption I favor obviously and a lot of people in Brooklyn, a lot of people in Manhattan have been really worried about the L train shutdown," as reported by the Associated Press. "So, if there is a plan that can be better for the people of our neighborhoods, that's great, but I want to reserve any further judgment until I hear more."

The immediate impact this might have on the construction along 14th Street between First Avenue and Avenue B isn't known just yet. There are many questions, such as what does Cuomo's new plan mean for the power substation slated for 14th Street and Avenue B?

The Times had more on East Village impacts:

Construction and congestion on side streets in the East Village could be abated, sparing neighbors fumes from supplemental buses and asbestos in the debris removed from the tunnel.

Andy Byford, who oversees New York City’s subways and buses, said there would likely not be a high-occupancy vehicle lane over the Williamsburg Bridge, as had been planned. Additional ferry service from Brooklyn to Manhattan will also not be needed.

No decision has been made regarding shutting down 14th Street in Manhattan for bus service...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Town Hall provides a few more details on the 24/7 construction at 14th and A

Renderings reveal the MTA's plans for the Avenue A L station; why does everyone look so happy?

Nightmare scenario for residents who learn that 14th Street and Avenue A will be the main staging area for the L-train reconstruction

What the L: Cuomo calls off full L-train shutdown

Prepping for the new bike lanes on 12th and 13th streets

Bike lane line work continues on 12th Street

DOT puts down the green paint on the new 13th Street bike lane (except for one mysterious spot)


Andrew Cuomo's Id said...

People and experts once thought the Titanic was unsinkable too

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see that people pushing back on this mess are currently leading the public narrative. When the L switcheroo first became news, there were a lot of "man on the street" interviews from L train riders who were jubilantly saying some variation of "No shutdown! That's awesome!" Like, take ten minutes and think about how it is NOT awesome that our elected leaders spent years preparing the public for this shutdown and then suddenly changed on a dime.

This along with De Blasio's reduced-fare Metrocard shitshow ... he says "“I think New Yorkers understand if you have an ideal goal and it takes a few extra days." No we don't, you procrastinating, unprofessional mess. He is the woooorst

noble neolani said...

wow, everyone is in the dark on this one including "building them tall and donate to my re-election" De Blasio.
Removing the bike lanes installed on 12th and 13th Street would be a big step backwards and yet another waste of money. What a mess.

Giovanni said...

Wait, so Mayor DeBlasio, City Councilwoman Rivera and State Senator Hoylman didn’t know anything about this new plan either? LLLOLLL! Cuomo really does think he’s the Mayor of New York. He’s basically proving what DeBlasio and every previous NYC Mayor has complained about, which is that the city does not have enough control over our own mass transit system (not to mention our own real estate laws). If you want to know wht New York City is so screwed up, look no further than our overlords in the sleepy backwater wasteland of Albany, New York.

I’ve heard that the Amazon deal might be why Cuomo stepped in. Amazon doesn’t want anything to disrupt their 20,000 employees either. And you can bet the REBNY lobbied to make this happen, because they knew renting and selling all those new apartments would require a price cut. But hey, at least we got all those crazy new lines painted on 14th Street, aka Wackadoodle Way.

It’s all about corruption and graft and who gets the big construction projects. Have you seen the cash tolls on the bridges and tunnels lately? $15 for the Lincoln, Holland tunnels and the GWB, and $17 for the Verrazano (less with an EZ pass, but can still cost over a hundred dollars a week for commuters). Where does this money go? The MTA is collecting the tolls on all the city bridges ans tunnels, and the Port Authority on the Jersey B&Ts. They keep telling us this money goes to improve our mass transit, but now the MTA wants another hike on bus and subway fares.

The bottom line is that this L train project is probably even more screwed up than it was before. Commuters and retailers changed their plans based on the disruptions we were told would happen. Now no one knows what the new plan means, including all of our local officials. As Jeff Bezos likes to tell his Amazon employees every single day, “It’s day 1.”

Anonymous said...

Can they fix the garbage truck situation on 10th Street now?

Anonymous said...

It looks like the engineers came up with a better plan. Cuomo, of course, saw the chance to grandstand.

Given that this is New York City and state any curiosity about graft levels between previous and new plan is warranted but that's a bar chart we won't see.

The time frame given in the article for nights and weekends is comparable to the previous time frame of complete closure so that's an undeniable plus, though a careful examination of per-day late penalties fine print might be amusing.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder what revelation was revealed as to the plan, but have heard it came from consultations from University and skilled engineers who were pushing for more advanced technology in the fix. It is plausible that this is the best solution after all, and was long in coming since the construction companies were the ones with the plan and hadn't been thinking of doing anything innovative. I have heard the biggest problem the MTA faces is that unlike other countries that have been expanding and rebuilding their subways, New York has very little experience in knowledge doing so since they only patch what's broken. Could also be pressure on the Gov from real estate interests who see a drop in their sales in and lets face it seem to be the ones calling the shots in so many decisions. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, in hopes that this is a carefully considered plan by qualified engineers that has finally gotten through to the Governor in the 11th hour.

Giovanni said...

Here’s the problem with the plan: to save time. they are going to hang the new signal cables from the walls, instead of embedding them in the concrete in the benchwall or walkways. How long do you think it will be before some kid, anarchist or homeless person decides to see how hard it is to cut the cables, shutting down the entire line?

Anonymous said...

Of course I am pleased for the people who use the L line every day. But to think of the money wasted on a 3 year commission/survey to come up with the Bus Lanes and traffic lanes now in place on 14th Street.....well.....I would love to hear a number on what that cost...or should I say wasted?
This new engineering miracle (?) is a great idea. Instead of ripping out stuff that is falling apart, we will just leave it there and put a fresh coat of paint on it that will last, according to the report I just heard, decades. Decades? Really? That's it? Back to square one in 20 years? This old system lasted 100 years! Even after a major disaster it is still working...not that well though.
More government mismanagement, more corrupt contractors and more money wasted. But...I am happy for the riders whose lives will not be disrupted.

Anonymous said...

@9:35am: The bike lanes on 12th and 13th Streets only exist b/c they were contingent on the L train shutdown. Now there's shutdown, so get the lanes OUT of here.

Let me put it this way: How would you feel if bikes lanes had to get removed for a project, and that project was then canceled, but they never put the bike lanes in again?

Fair is fair, and the city has completely screwed up MANY blocks from west village to central village to east village with these lanes plus the red SBS lanes on 14th St. and a lot of crazy markings and speed bumps all over the place in this area.

The answer is clear and straightforward: Put everything back to how it was before the L train shutdown was ever a gleam in Cuomo's eye.

Andrew cuomo's id said...


So in essence, this is another surface and cosmetic job the worst transit system in the universe; just like all that stupid art and that tacky whiteout job they did to cover up the dilapidated walls at the union square station

cmarrtyy said...

I have to laugh... All our local pols are crying that they were blind-sided by the Cuomo announcement. DAh... It shows how little respect and how worthless they are... including the mayor.

noble neolani said...

@11:51 AM

You must own a car and benefit from taxpayer subsidized "free" parking on 12th or 13th street. If you live on one of these street and work in Manhattan then you don't need you car to get to work therefore it is a recreational vehicle. This is a different story in the other boroughs none of which have the destiny as Manhattan.

Cars are a problem in Manhattan, noisy polluting and sometimes dangerous depending on who is driving. The city would be foolish to remove these bike lanes regardless of an L train shutdown or not. The streets belong to all of us and are not the sole property of car owners. The future is less cars not more, we have a good public transit especially when you compare it to other major US cities. The majority of people who live here do not own a car and less will own then going forward.

noble neolani said...

Is it time to succeed from New York State?

Anonymous said...

@Giovanni - Then there's a few hour shutdown, maybe, and one dead homeless anarchist kid. Once. Like pissing on the third rail the novelty isn't attractive once the result is known.

So the shutdown was all about ripping up the concrete for the cables? Without ripping up that concrete just do it on the weekends in the same amount of time? There's got to be a tangled web here. Some construction racketeers didn't get what they thought they did with the brown paper bag.

Anonymous said...

Yeah what about the garbage truck situation on East 10th?

Neighbor said...

@noble is right and the city should go a step farther and charge for parking on city streets at all time.

noble neolani said...

Thanks my radical friend "Neighbor"

Anonymous said...

@1:59PM nearly as many residents of 10009 commute to work by car as by bike (varies by year of survey); if you include motorcycles and taxis, then it is certainly more that use some sort of motor vehicle: COMMUTING CHARACTERISTICS BY SEX 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates 10009

What will become of the pollution argument as electric vehicles overtake internal combustion, much as the internal combustion engine ousted the horse? Self-driving vehicles are still a pipe dream (and will remain so), and therefore private vehicle ownership will always be preferred by some over the (awful) public transportation options available in NYC.

If it makes you feel better to personally not drive (despite your continued existence in NY being made possible by gas and diesel chugging trucks), so be it, but we're in a car-oriented world and will continue to be so, regardless of whether they run off of gas, electricity of solar (and other origin), or who knows what.

Anonymous said...

I guess we should be grateful that this alternative plan surfaced; it may take away the possibility of massive cost overruns that would have found their way into the hands of, are we allowed to say corrupt officials? Perhaps Mayor DeB and his cronies haven't yet got their hands in the pants pockets of the new technology companies. Get started before the Mayor figures out a way to co-opt them. Anything that improves cross 14th Street transportation (public and private) should remain in place. Would you really want the MTA in the hands of Mayor DeB? Gov. C. probably still has national public office aspirations and will not allow wholesale corruption. Mayor DeB's dreams of national office can't rest on preschool for all--which is a success. The rollout of reduced fare Metrocards is a disaster and that is of his making. If he still has illusions that he can be President or VP, DeB should go back to his Brooklyn gym and take a meditation class. He's not going anywhere on a national ticket--too corrupt. Bye the bye--about the change over which will eliminate Metro cards and migrate to cell phones; shouldn't this be opposed as (a)elitism in assuming that everyone has a cell phone and (b) that we all want the information on our cellphones to be continually vulnerable by one more app which one shouldn't trust the city pols to insure is safe.

Anonymous said...

@6:37 PM
> What will become of the pollution argument as electric vehicles overtake internal combustion

You do understand the electricity has to come from somewhere, right? I'm all for electric vehicles and in a better world we wouldn't be burning coal somewhere to recharge them, but taking any weight off the upcoming needed extreme carbon detox is a good thing.

I'd guess we're getting congestion pricing soon though the Trump supporters I know compare it to Bolshevik firing squads. And monthly parking fees for every private spot would be a good idea. I pay taxes and am tired of subsidizing personal vehicles. It should cost more to drive into Manhattan and yes that's regressive but so is capitalism.

Anonymous said...

@6:37 PM look around you: the neighborhood population is growing and the streets cannot accomodate parking spots for every body. Every empty lot in the neighborhood is built. Where a parking garage was standing on 11 street 36 units were built: families with children. Did 11 st had suddenly 36 more parking spots? On 12 st and Av A, where the church and flea market used to be: 82 units, wealthy people who can afford having a car. That building has 6 parking spots. Did 12 st somehow got 76 more parking spots to accommodate more cars? The city needs to encourage people to use bikes.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why this miracle plan didn't happen to save lots of taxpayer money for
weird repainting of city streets for buses, etc.

Some people need cars, not everyone works in the city and public transportation is fine if its an easy commute.
Some people are elderly or have other needs and need a car, that is just how it is.

Congestion... well, with the bike lanes everything is squashed and therefore
looks congested and is, which then causes possibly more pollution.
For example, First Ave went from about 5 lanes to three narrower ones - so if a truck needs to make a delivery, as there are businesses that need deliveries, that leaves two for a while.

While the bicyclists themselves may be green, the net effect/impact of the bike lanes
are actually causing more pollution.

DrGecko said...

Cuomo's hand-picked engineers are academics. They don't have much experience in designing real-world systems, and none of them has designed anything for a subway. "Dean of Engineering at Columbia University" sounds nice, but her specialty is millimeter-scale polymers.

The proposal is interesting, but people with actual experience should be weighing in. It shouldn't be imposed by a grand-standing governor.

Choresh Wald said...

@10:27 the bike lane does not create congestion. It is just repurposing space that was being used as free car storage. I absolutely agree with you about the need to create truck loading zones on every block: right now the city completely ignores the fact goods need to be delivered and supply zero loading zones in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

@1:29pm Jan. 4th: NO, I do NOT own a car - but thanks for trying to pigeon-hole me for your own self-interested purposes.

I hate bike riders b/c they are a danger all their own. They are an ongoing threat to my health and well-being.

Face it: If the streets belong to EVERYONE (as you say), then there's no more reason to kowtow to bike riders' demands than to car owners!

Let bike riders show that they respect rules (especially to demonstrate respect for the physical safety of pedestrians) - then maybe we can talk.

Better yet, let's LICENSE every bike rider and make them carry insurance - that's what car owners have to do. Why should the bike riders expect to take over the streets (and sidewalks!) for free AND somehow they are EXEMPT from all the rules?. And YOUR parking spaces are FREE? Why?? You gotta pay up!

Here's the deal: You wanna charge cars to park, then bike riders pay the same, IMO! (In fact, bike riders have cost ME and everyone else a ton of $$$$ b/c those bike lanes did not come for free - so you're on thin ice if you want to *pretend* that you're doing something noble and free, when in fact ALL of us paid for your special bike lanes and for the disruption they cause. And we are still paying in aggravation, in being yelled at by bike riders, by being nearly run over when we cross the street, and by only having a tiny space for buses or taxis or ambulances to get through on streets & avenues.

Further, you have no idea why someone living here might actually need a car for their work! You must exist in a very precious bubble.

And hey, these are MY streets - I pay my taxes, including real estate tax on my home, and I expect that if the city puts in a bike lane for a stated "reason", then the city needs to REMOVE the lane when the "reason" has been removed.

@10:27am is completely right in saying: "the net effect/impact of the bike lanes are actually causing more pollution." YES, the smug, oh-so-pleased-with-themselves bike riders are using special lanes that LEAD TO MORE POLLUTION FOR EVERYONE who's breathing.

Bike riders, I hope if you have a heart attack, you'll hop on your bike & use your expensive bike lanes to get yourself to the hospital. Because right now, if anyone on MY block has a heart attack or other medical emergency, it's tough as shit for an ambulance to GET to the person; and then it takes longer to get the person to the hospital.

But hey, you're young & you don't believe you will ever be old or infirm or disabled, it appears, so you don't give a fig about what OTHER PEOPLE might need. That makes you, IMO, a bad citizen.

Anonymous said...

@3:41pm: Yes, the bike lanes do create congestion b/c they also are re-purposing space that was free! They've taken it out of use for everyone else, and arrogated it to themselves.

The city spends a lot of $$$ (taxpayer money, including money from those of us who do not bike nor own a car!) to make bike riders "happy" - yet the bike riders are NEVER happy, and they never think that they have stolen a hell of a lot of space on the streets of NYC for their FREE lanes (plus all the rent-a-bike docking areas).

I think the bike riders are being pampered at the expense of PEDESTRIANS, and there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of you. So how about we regulate bike riding & tax it pretty heavily? That's what I think should happen.