NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The City Council Transportation Committee held a hearing Thursday to discuss commuting disruptions when the L train tunnel shuts down for 15 months for repairs in 2019.
The MTA and city Department of Transportation have a sweeping plan to provide alternative service to L train riders, which connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, running below 14th Street.
“The City Council and riders expect that the city and the MTA present a detailed and comprehensive plan,” committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez said.
The plan includes restricting cars from 14th Street from 3rd to 9th avenues, open only to buses to accommodate those who would typically take the subway. Additional buses are expected to carry 15 percent of displaced L train riders.
One parking lane would also be stripped from 13th Street to accommodate people opting to ride their bike.
NYPD traffic agents would monitor the Williamsburg Bridge during rush hours, open only to HOV cars with three or more passengers, L train alternative buses and trucks.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat it — there are going to be congestion challenges around the city during this period,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We’re now trying to accommodate hundreds of thousands of commuters with different commuting patterns and that is going to be a challenge.”
The MTA is also proposing adding a new ferry route from north Williamsburg to Stuyvensent Cove.
The contingency plan was panned by City Council members on both sides of the East River, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported. Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso complained it favors Manhattan.
“The 14th Street and 13th Street plans presented to us seem well developed, and it’s a stark contrast between what I would consider development on Grant Street or in my district,” he said.
Manhattan Councilman Cory Johnson said his constituents are apoplectic over the driving restrictions.
“Closing this essential tunnel will be a major inconvenience for many of our customers and for our entire city,” said MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim.
Reaction from straphangers on the plan was mixed.
“I understand the tracks and subway need to be maintained, but there’s gotta be another way to do it,” commuter Shain Anderson said.
“It’s the infrastructure,” said Manhattan resident Richard Flynn. “If it has to be done, it has to be done and hopefully they have the best plan possible.”
“I’d rather not. I really hate taking a bus,” said rider Asia Behlam.
Most people affected by the proposed shutdown are expected to opt for other subway lines like the G, J, M and Z. The MTA would add more trains and additional cars to offset overcrowding.
Following Thursday’s hearing, the MTA and DOT will host town halls and that’s when commuters can add their two cents to the conversation.