See MTA and DOT Plans Before Tonight’s L Train Open House

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WILLIAMSBURG – Tonight, the second L Train open house in Brooklyn will take place, an event sponsored by both the MTA and the DOT.

Tonight’s meeting will be the third in a series of four (two each in Brooklyn and Manhattan) that was announced in January so the two organizations handling the Canarsie Tunnel repair could present mitigation information to the public. A month prior to the announcement, a number of local politicians had gathered to take the MTA and DOT to task for their silence on the impending 15-month closure.

After the first open house, both the MTA and DOT made some of their display materials available for the public, in case North Brooklyn residents weren’t able to attend. While much of the information discussed at the last event was already known to those following the saga of mitigation plans, there were some new details on display. Check out some highlights below:

The MTA’s plan for the Williamsburg bridge during the L train shutdown (Screenshot via MTA)
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One aspect of the plan is to have HOV 3+ and bus priority lanes during peak hours—which are still to be determined. During those peak hours, the DOT expects to run 12-16 buses each hour, or one every 4-5 minutes. The limitation of bus priority to peak hours has its critics, too.

“Peak hours are all hours,” Philip Leff told BKLYNER at the last meeting. A transit activist with TransAlt, Leff cited a midnight L train ride he found just as crowded as during the day. “This is a center for art and culture all hours of the day and night—replacement service needs to reflect that.”

A slideshow received from the DOT stated, “Buses will need to serve 30,000+ riders, or 25 packed L trains, on our streets and bridges every day.” That number is a lot lower than the commonly cited 225,000 passengers that make the trip from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the L train each day.

Most of that burden will be shouldered by the JMZ and G train lines, which should see both more cars on their trains and an increase in frequency. The MTA will be increasing capacity at stations as well, and taking advantage of the closure to make capital improvements to L train stations.

At the first open house, President of New York City Transit Andy Byford characterized these upgrades as “a bit of payback to the people for their patience.”

Major capital improvements and capacity upgrades will come to North Brooklyn subway stations (Screenshot via DOT)

Of course, there’s the expectation that the ferries will fill in some of the gaps in service, especially with the proposed direct-service line between Williamsburg’s North 4th Street and Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Cove. But the 5% of riders expected to be absorbed by boats represents more than the entire ferry fleet’s current carrying capacity, and neither organization has provided details as to how the new service will work.

However, there are details on some major changes that will come to Grand Street, including permanent protected bike lanes:

The MTA’s plan for Grand Street includes permanent upgrades to bike infrastructure across Brooklyn (Screenshot via MTA)
A larger view of the plan, taken from a DOT presentation (Screenshot via DOT)

However, giving priority to bikes and buses will restrict regular car traffic on Grand Street, meaning those heading west will be rerouted to Manhattan Avenue, while eastbound traffic will have a number of options:

With priority given to buses and bikes, the DOT plans to reroute car traffic around Grand Street during peak hours (Screenshot via DOT)

Interestingly enough, the presentation shared by the DOT includes a rather frank prediction of stakeholder responses in the area: Councilmember Reynoso and Transportation Alternatives would be happy with the results, while businesses would oppose interfering with truck routes. The DOT also predicted both business owners and Community Board 1 residents would be frustrated by the loss of parking spots—a common theme in all manner of projects.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered before the deadline of April 2019 rolls around and the shutdown becomes a reality. Luckily, the MTA and DOT are beginning to engage with reisdents and stakeholders—and they’ve promised to hold many more meetings elicting feedback in the future.

Tonight is the time for North Brooklyn residents to make their voices heard and see even more materials like those included above. Not to mention, MTA and DOT staff will be on hand to answer what questions they can. Nothing is going to stop this shutdown, but an informed community has got to be the first step in making the best of it.

Tonight’s open house will take place at the Williamsburg Community Center, 195 Graham Avenue, from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.

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