NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The MTA has closed down the 53rd Street Tunnel connecting Queens and Manhattan for repairs.
Starting Tuesday, more than 500 workers will be toiling around the clock replacing the third rail, clearing track drains and installing cables for signal improvements along the E and M lines.
During the five-day closure of the tunnel, the M train will not be running except for M shuttle trains between Metropolitan and Myrtle Wyckoff avenues.
The E train will be rerouted along the F line between Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights and West 4th Street and then continue on its normal course from there to the World Trade Center, except overnight.
The shut down caused some confusion among commuters the day after Christmas.
It was perhaps the last thing commuters wanted for Christmas.
“I’m really pissed because I’m late to work,” one rider to CBS2’s Reena Roy. “All right, sorry guys, I really gotta go.”
Riders with no time to spare scrambled to find alternative routes.
“A little frustrated because I just came over from Rock Center, so now we’re walking back,” another commuter told Roy.
“It’s messed up. This was… literally, I’m just finding out right now,” said commuter Ibrahim Charneco.
Signage and MTA agents on site will help guide commuters.
That didn’t sit well with some riders.
“Total chaos. Absolute chaos. No one’s going to know where to go, what to do, and it’s not going to be fun” said commuter George Cianci.
Despite the confusion, the MTA says this is actually the best option, with the agency taking advantage of low ridership at this time of year. Instead of the usual weekend work, a complete shutdown will allow workers to get more done in less time, according to the MTA.
“This is an opportunity to get in that four-five day period, five or six, seven weekends. Just make it happen,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said earlier this month.
The MTA also says it will save money with this approach by doing more work in less time.
“I agree. Take care of it when people aren’t using the trains as much,” one man said.
“You got people that work every day during the week, so it’s better during the weekends,” another added.
Still, some would’ve preferred another method.
“It’s so, like, antiquated. So it does help, but because this is New York, we’reused to hustling. We don’t want to hear any excuses, so you know nighttime would’ve been best,” said Cianci.
Service is expected to be back to normal by 8 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. If the shutdown is a success, the MTA may try it out on other lines, Roy reported.
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