Since Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed his new plan for the L train reconstruction and declared the shutdown averted, commuters, residents, advocates, elected officials, and other city leaders have raised many valid questions and concerns. Will this new approach work? Why it wasn’t brought up earlier? What will happen to the mitigation measures put in place after three years of careful planning?
Today, I attended an emergency meeting called by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board to discuss this new plan. I shared some of my concerns with board members, which I also outlined in a joint letter to Governor Cuomo and the MTA that I wrote with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and 16 other elected officials late last week. In the letter, we called for:
- An independent analysis evaluating how repairs will hold up under the previous plan vs. the new one.
- Certain parts of the existing mitigation plan, like bike and bus infrastructure, to stay.
- More opportunities for the community to give input.
- Reinvestment of any cost savings from the new plan into L train neighborhoods.
- Transparency around the exact savings, contract terms, effects of the new plan on already-guaranteed federal funding.
- A full review of how this last-minute change of course came to be.
According to a New York Times story published today, a similar plan to partially close the Canarsie Tunnel on nights and weekends was considered by the MTA five years ago but abandoned in part because of the “potential for the spread of cancer-causing dust” when workers removed parts of the concrete bench wall to mount cables.
As I said at the meeting, the twists, turns, and intrigue around this plan sure beat most Law & Order episodes I’ve seen. That’s no way to run a transit agency that serves millions of people every day. While I’m all for any safe, workable plan that avoids a full shutdown, New Yorkers need to be confident that those in charge know what they’re doing.