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The MTA and DOT have finally revealed their L Train shutdown plans and not everyone is happy

So after dragging their feet for months, the DOT and MTA have finally announced their plans for the impending L Train shutdown. It includes:

  • Increased service on the G and JMZ lines
  • Longer G and C trains to increase capacity 
  • Weekends and overnights, M will run to 96 St/2 Av
  • Free MetroCard transfers between Broadway G and Lorimer-Hewes JMZ
  • Free MetroCard transfers between 3 train at Junius St and L train at Livonia Av
  • Ferries, Citi Bike: The MTA will start a new ferry route connecting North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove, which will be the terminus of the M14 SBS. DOT will also improve cycling connections to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing and East River Greenway, as well as a protected bike link this spring on Delancey Street between Allen Street and the Williamsburg Bridge. DOT will work with Motivate on its Citi Bike capacity to help service inconvenienced subway users, such as increased bike inventories and valet services to help move riders.
  • Grand Street, Brooklyn: DOT is looking to make major changes to a street that will serve as a major bus and bicycle corridor to the Williamsburg Bridge.
  • Subway Enhancements: DOT will also add new crosswalks, bike parking and pedestrian space to the Myrtle and Broadway corridors near the J/M/Z subway lines. With G train ridership expected to grow dramatically, DOT will improve crossings around the Nassau Avenue G train stop.
  • Cycling: With the L closed in Manhattan, daily cycling volume is expected to double, and DOT will add Manhattan’s first two-way protected crosstown bike lane to 13th Street. DOT will also create brand new pedestrian space on Union Square West from 14th to 15th Streets and 16th to 17th Streets and a pedestrianized street that features a new bike parking hub on University Place from 13th to 14th Streets.

DOT claims that 80% of the L Train’s 225,000 daily passengers will be absorbed by the G,M,J and Z which seems INSANE given how crowded those trains are currently. Even with increased service on other lines, excruciating delays and jam-packed cars are inevitable.

There’s also no discussion of expanding Citibike to Bushwick and East Williamsburg, which seems like an easy transportation alternative to pursue.

One of the biggest points of contentions is the DOT’s refusal to create a dedicated bus lane on the Williamsburg bridge. The plan instead will create a HOV3+ lane during rush hour:

According to the DOT, the outer deck of the Williamsburg Bridge will designated for buses, trucks, and vehicles making right turns. The bus lanes on the bridge approaches will feed directly into that outer deck, with the assumption that the HOV-3 rules will make the outer deck work reliably for bus passengers. The definition of “rush hours” on the bridge is yet to be determined.

Last week, transportation economist Charles Komanoff predicted anarchy on the bridge “if the authorities are so cowardly and stupid as to not create the dedicated bus lane.”

Asked yesterday if he thought this plan was as effective as a bus lane, Komanoff told the Voice, “No, it’s not.”

“What’s to stop trucks from oversharing the Williamsburg Bridge’s outer deck? I honestly don’t see why buses — and buses every 15-20 seconds, not every 50-60 — shouldn’t get the entire outer deck,” Komanoff said. “Let trucks fend for space with cars on the inner lanes.”

How will the agencies enforce the HOV lane restrictions? They say they will work with the NYPD and will look into various forms of technology to ensure that only crowded cars pass during rush hours.

The agencies also acknowledge that the HOV restrictions will cause “traffic shifts to other East River Crossings,” and pledge to keep studying the issue.

“To repeat myself,” Komanoff says, “why not just toll the [East River] bridges — all four of them?” (Mayor Bill de Blasio has staunchly opposed congestion pricing, while Governor Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing panel is expected to produce their recommendation within the next month or so.)

Second Ave. Sagas, which knows a thing or two about MTA headaches, is also worried about the lack of a dedicated bus lanes on the bridge:

The bad news: As Polly Trottenberg stressed to reporters on Wednesday afternoon and as DOT’s document mentions, DOT is considered these lane restrictions “during rush hour at a minimum.” Based on L train ridership patterns and the impact of this shutdown, the HOV3+ lane should probably be a bus-only lane and should definitely be in place on a 24/7 basis for the duration of the shutdown. But here’s the story: The lanes will run from Grand St. in Brooklyn to Spring St. in Manhattan with bus service to the Essex/Delancey, Spring St. and Broadway/Lafayette-Bleecker St. subway stations. Additional bus priority lanes will be in place on both ends of the Williamsburg Bridge, and three new bus routes will provide inter-borough connections — including one that deliver riders to the 14th St. corridor. It’s not yet clear how HOV3+ enforcement will be implemented on the bridge, but enforcement will be key to ensuring buses can move freely. As to the other free East River crossings, DOT says they will “continue to analyze” how this plan will impact traffic on the other crossings.

As we mentioned before, we’re fully behind a dedicated bus lane. Without it, there’s no way to prevent enormous congestion for the buses.

Some other thoughts below from Bushwick Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Second Ave. Sagas:

 

Robert Lanham: