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MTA Halting R Train Service Between Brooklyn, Manhattan For 14-Month Sandy Repair Project

Closure Of Montague Street Tunnel To Impact Nearly 65,000 Daily Straphangers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The MTA is shutting down service in the Montague Street tunnel for more than a year so crews can repair signals, power cables and other equipment that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

Starting Friday night, there will be no R trains running between Court Street in Brooklyn and Whitehall Street in Manhattan.

The 14-month closure of the tunnel will force an estimated 65,000 daily subway riders to switch to other routes.

“I’m frustrated, I’m mad,” one commuter said. “I need to get to the city.”

“I just have to switch from the 4 train from Union Square to the 4 from the R,” said straphanger Rich Ballerini. “The 4 train is very crowded, so it’s kind of a hassle to switch because normally I can take the R all the way here.”

“It’s going to be probably about 15 more minutes having to walk to another station and then transferring trains,” said commuter Leslie Swiedler. “I wish I could take 14 months off from work, but unfortunately no.”

Even straphangers who don’t take the R are annoyed,

“2, 3, 4, they’re packed as it is,” one rider said. “It’s going to get worse cause everyone will take them so it’s not convenient at all.”

Nearly 27 million gallons of water flooded the tunnel during Sandy, submerging power lines and signal equipment in 20 feet of corrosive salt water for 10 days.

“Salt water and metal do not mix,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “It’s essentially rebuilding the tunnel from the ground up — replacing tracks, signals, pump rooms, everything.”

In addition to the tunnel closure, the MTA says weekday R train service will operate in two sections. Section one will be Brooklyn only while section two will be Queens and Manhattan only.

Weekend R train service will operate via the Manhattan Bridge. There will be no weekend R trains or late night N trains at the Jay Street-MetroTech, Court Street, Whitehall Street, Rector Street, Cortlandt Street and City Hall stations.

The MTA is advising riders to use the 2, 3, 4, 5, A and C trains instead.

“It’s going to mean more crowded trains, but there is no quicker way than using one of these other lines to get to their destination,” said Ortiz.

The MTA is calling Sandy-related work “fix and fortify” projects because crews will also be adding flood prevention and mitigation measures so the next big storm is not so devastating, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.

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