Confusion reigns over new L Project
The U-turn the L-train Shutdown made in mid-January has churned community confusion yet to be addressed. The timeline of public information released regarding the new plan for the L (now dubbed: The L Project) has travelled like the L-train when there is a sick passenger at Union Square during rush hour. On January 17th, the MTA and Dept. of Transportation (DOT) officially got onboard with Gov. Cuomo’s findings that a total shutdown of both tunnels would not be necessary. Since then, there has been little more than silence as an official response to the multitude of questions from the public.
Community Conversations on the L Project with the MTA & DOT scheduled in North Brooklyn on March 13th & March 19th
Here are just some of the points pondered by the public: How much longer will the L Project take than the 15–18 months of the L Shutdown? When will the L Project go into effect? What parts of the L Shutdown Plan will remain (extra cars on the G, status of lane changes on Grand Street, additional bus routes to the city during weekend/overnight shutdowns, etc.)? Of these, only the G extension has been addressed when the MTA communicated it had opted against lengthening G trains. Currently the L in L-train stands for limbo to its ridership. Questions have gone unanswered for 40 days as of this writing. Businesses along Grand Street are also in a limbo. The street was more than halfway through the DOT’s paint job for its new bike/parking/bus lane changes. General murmurings from business owners along Grand Street indicate these lane changes have negatively affected their revenue.
In a press release the MTA makes the promise, “with revised approach, 100 percent of [L-train] customers will continue to have normal service during highest ridership times on weekdays.” MTA Managing Director, Ronnie Hakim estimates that 90% of L-train riders won’t see any disruption. Neither has shown the math that led up to those percentage calculations. Taking Hakim’s 90% number into account, logical suppositions would yield that more than 10% of L riders would (or would wish to) travel this line on weekends or overnights at least once during the L Project’s duration (however long that would be). Not to mention the indirect impact weekend and overnight mini shutdowns will have on the locals expecting visitors from the outer boroughs or beyond.
Weekend and weeknight closures that were scheduled as part of the original L-train Shutdown preparation plan have remained in effect. There were no East River crossings on weekends in February as will be the case that the first three weekends in March are also sans East River passage.
To allay the community’s uncertainty about this abrupt no-shutdown turnaround after three years of shutdown planning, four open houses are scheduled in March (two in North Brooklyn and two along 14th Street in Manhattan). Labeled as “Community Conversations” MTA and DOT will give the public in attendance updates on the proposed construction approach and progress on other elements staying the same, such as station improvements; information on the new proposed service plan; a review of planned street treatments, and routing assistance. The word conversation is defined as a talking with (not a talking to), an exchange of ideas (not a one-sided dole out). The notice for these meetings omits any mention of there being opportunities for the public’s feedback or deeper questions, but don’t let that stop you. In the previous community meeting go-round for the original shutdown plan, the MTA and DOT were very receptive to community input.
The “doors will be open” from 6 p.m.–8 p.m for the Community Conversations, the two scheduled in North Brooklyn are: March 13 at the Williamsburg Northside School, 299 N 7 St. (at Meeker Ave.) and March 19 at the Grand Street Campus High School, 850 Grand St. (btw Bushwick Ave. & Waterbury St.).
For more information go to the L Project page: https://new.mta.info/l-project You can also sign up for their mailing list there.