NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The MTA is taking a dramatic step to speed up the pace of subway repairs and end the nightmare of delays for commuters.
Instead of doing major work on weekends, a subway tunnel under the East River will be closed for five straight days.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, long lists of weekend service changes to accommodate track work can be seen at every station. But for major repairs in the 53rd Street tunnel connecting Queens and Manhattan, the MTA is trying something different and shutting it down for almost one week starting December 26th.
“This is an opportunity to get in that four-five day period, five or six, seven weekends. Just make it happen,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Wednesday.
The chairman says 450 workers will toil around the clock to replace third rail, clear track drains and install cables for signal improvements.
For that holiday week, it will mean the complete closure of the station at 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, along with big service changes on the E train and suspension of most M train service.
The timing is by design, Aiello reported. The days after Christmas typically see a pretty significant drop in subway ridership.
The MTA 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.
The MTA has posted a video explaining how riders can get around during construction.
If the do-it-all-at-once approach works, the MTA might try it on other lines as the agency works to fix a system broken by years of neglect.