As you undoubtedly know, the City and the MTA plan to close the L Train for nearly all of 2019 and part of 2020. We’re just 16 months away, and they still haven’t announced how they’re going to handle the 15-month closure, which will affect an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 riders. Representatives from the MTA claim they simply haven’t announced their plans, but their delay is angering local business owners who haven’t gotten an update since the spring.
In May, the DOT and the MTA briefed lawmakers on ideas for addressing the commuters affected by the shutdown, including bus-only and HOV lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a new ferry line to run between North 6th Street in Williamsburg and East 20th Street in Manhattan. But about 70 percent of L train riders, they noted, were expected to be diverted to the J/M/Z and G lines, which would see their service increased… “What we’re hearing from DOT and the MTA is that they have plans drawn up but they aren’t ready to share them with us yet,” said Minna Elias, the district chief of staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, whose district encompasses parts of North Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan… Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, denied that a finished plan exists.
“There has to be a dedicated bus lane on the Williamsburg Bridge. That has to happen. That is under the control of the DOT” [said Levin].
Memos leaked to Second Avenue Sagas in October showed that while the MTA’s suggestions included “bus priority across the bridge,” the DOT’s plans favored making the bridge HOV-3 from 5 a.m. through the evening rush hour. Charles Komanoff, a transportation economist, told the Voice that without a dedicated bus lane during the L train shutdown, the Williamsburg Bridge and the roads leading to it will be mired in chaos.
“I think that what will happen is that on the second day, people are going to jump out of the buses and they’re gonna start destroying the automobiles that are making them sit in traffic,” Komanoff said. “That’s what I would want to see, if the authorities are so cowardly and stupid as to not create the dedicated bus lane.”
A dedicated bus lane sounds like a good solution to us, but will need to be paired with increased service on the G, J, M and Z lines. We will also need more ferry service. No matter what solutions they come up with, it’s insane they aren’t communicating with the closure being just over a year away.