MTA's Andy Byford and DOT's Polly Trottenberg have already briefed reporters about the coming L train shutdown. Photo: David Meyer
MTA's Andy Byford and DOT's Polly Trottenberg have already briefed reporters about the coming L train shutdown. Photo: David Meyer

Set your calendars!

The MTA and Department of Transportation have released a treasure trove of information about the 15-month L-train shutdown, which is now slated to begin on April 27.

That, unfortunately, is the only “news” in the agencies’ joint statement today — that and the fact that DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg called the Williamsburg Bridge a “bus bridge” in her statement. (Alas, we checked with DOT to see if the agency had scrapped its inevitably ill-fated decision to allow cars with three or more people to cross the bridge instead of setting it aside entirely for public transit — but a spokesman said the HOV-3 plan remains in effect. Well, we’ll see if the city can really run 80 buses per peak hour with cars mixed in…)

All of Streetsblog’s L coverage is archived here.

Beyond that, here’s the full unedited release (make sure to follow the links for full details):

MTA New York City Transit & NYCDOT Announce New Schedule Details for L Tunnel Reconstruction Project

Starting in January, Customers Can Expect Series of Open Houses, Pop-Up Events and Mobile Information Centers to Help Plan Routes Using New Alternate Transportation Options Ahead of April 27, 2019, Tunnel Closure

MTA New York City Transit and the New York City Department of Transportation today announced new details about what customers can expect ahead of April 2019 when the l train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn is closed for 15 months for extensive repairs from Superstorm Sandy, with l service running in Brooklyn between the Bedford Av and Canarsie Rockaway Parkway Stations.

The l tunnel will close for its 15-month reconstruction on Saturday, April 27, 2019. This means that the last day for l service between Eighth Av and Bedford Av in Brooklyn will be Friday, April 26, 2019. l train service will continue throughout Brooklyn, between the Bedford Av station, which will remain open during the tunnel closure, and the Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway station.

The alternative service options for customers, which includes five additional bus routes, a new M14 Select Bus Service on 14th Street and a ferry service, will begin on Sunday, April 21, 2019, to allow for customers to sample and become acclimated to new travel options. The additional subway service on other lines – more than 1,000 additional roundtrips – will begin on April 28, 2019, following the l tunnel closure.

Read the full plan for temporary service options in support of the L tunnel reconstruction project.

Customers will be able to meet in person with MTA NYC Transit and NYCDOT team members to plan their routes, through a series of open houses, pop-up events or one of the three mobile information centers – two vans and a bus – which will make stops to meet with customers. Official dates and times for open houses and schedules for events and the mobile information center locations will be posted on the L tunnel reconstruction website once announced.
Numerous stations have received or are receiving capacity expansions, with newly reopened or expanded entrances, stairs and corridors.

NYCDOT and MTA NYC Transit are coordinating with key City agencies – such as the NYPD, Department of Buildings and Citywide Events Coordination and Management – on aligning City operations with the needs of l train alternate transit services, including working to minimize disruption from construction projects and events.

The construction for the project is on schedule. In Manhattan, the construction site footprint and hours of work both reduce between 1st Avenue and Avenue A in January 2019. In Brooklyn, most barricades will be removed along with permanent street and sidewalk restoration on Bedford Avenue by early November 2018, and throughout early 2019, work will continue to open and do permanent finishes on the additional stairs, three of four which have already opened for increased capacity.

Officials are committing to monitor the air for particulates typically caused by diesel emissions, known as PM2.5, and making results publicly available. This is in addition to the air quality monitoring already in place for the project’s construction sites.

Outreach continues with customers, local residents, local businesses, and elected officials.

“We’re continuing unprecedented efforts at public outreach, responding to local communities and giving as much notice as possible on key dates in this project,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “With the l running as a Brooklyn-only service for 15 months starting after the weekend of April 27, we’ve been hard at work with our partners at NYCDOT and other City agencies to make sure that the alternate train, bus, ferry and bicycle networks work together to get people around successfully.”

“With DOT crews now putting down new street markings for bus lanes and bike lanes, we are deeply committed to having our streets ready for the l tunnel closure next April,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “From a ‘bus bridge’ over the Williamsburg Bridge to the 14th Street Busway, from more Citi Bikes to expanded pedestrian space for displaced l train commuters, we and our MTA partners are up for this enormous challenge.”

For a reminder about remaining l service changes in 2018, visit the L 2018 service notice page. To help customers plan ahead in 2019, new service information details about the l in 2019 include:

Overnight service closures and weekend closures during February, March and April 2019, from 8th Av in Manhattan to Broadway Junction in Brooklyn to prepare the tunnel ahead of the closure and to expedite maintenance on the l tracks remaining in service when the tunnel is closed. Weekend dates scheduled are:

  • Feb 2-3
  • Feb 9-10
  • Feb 16-17
  • Feb 23-24
  • Mar 2-3
  • Mar 9-10
  • Mar 16-17
  • April 27-28

Additional weekend service changes on the l line during the 15-month the tunnel closure will be necessary to properly install the new substations, which will enable more l trains to run once the tunnel is reopened. A full schedule will be released in early 2019.


The l tunnel – also known as the Canarsie Tunnel – was one of nine underwater tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, all of which required extensive rehabilitation and repair. The tunnel, which houses the under-river subway tracks for the l line between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was flooded with enough water to fill 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools and 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. While short-term repairs enabled NYC Transit to safely restore l service after Sandy, long-term repairs are needed to run l service without major failures.

NYC Transit began public outreach on the l tunnel reconstruction project in 2016, with more than 100 public workshops, neighborhood town halls and meetings with community boards, elected officials, the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to plan the project and proposed service mitigation, and to solicit public feedback on how best to accommodate approximately 225,000 riders who currently take the l train between Manhattan and Brooklyn and the 50,000 riders who take the l in Manhattan.

The result of the extensive public outreach was a comprehensive package of temporary service alternatives that include:

  • Additional subway service on seven lines
  • Five new high-frequency Select Bus Service routes
  • A new peak-hour limited-stop bus route between Canarsie and Crown Heights
  • Increased service on existing bus routes that link l customers to alternative subway routes
  • A new ferry service between Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Stuyvesant Cove at East 20th Street and Avenue C in Manhattan
  • NYC Transit continues to solicit feedback and plans to make adjustments to the alternate service plans if needed.

In addition to rebuilding the l tunnel, NYC Transit also plans to make improvements at several l stations as well as other stations that will be used by l customers seeking alternative service.

Information on the l train tunnel repairs, the alternate service changes and the station improvement projects are available here.