Jan. 16, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation will be heading to Long Island City to present their L train shutdown plans to Community Board 2, according to both agencies, although they have yet to set a date.
The MTA is currently facing criticism from transit activists who claim the agency has failed to provide strategies for Queens, which is expected to receive thousands of rerouted riders when the L train tunnel shuts for 15 months worth of repairs in April 2019. The two agencies said that 70 to 80 percent of displaced riders are expected to use other train lines to move around during the shut down.
Mellissa Orlando, founder and executive director of Access Queens, requested that the agencies come to Long Island City to present their plans for the L train shutdown, but maintains that their current mitigation proposals, heavily geared toward Brooklyn and Manhattan and with little mention of plans for Queens, do a disservice to the borough.
“I’m happy that they’re coming to present to the community board,” Orlando said. “I’m not happy that the current information that’s out there is not extensive enough to mitigate the crowding that’s going to happen during the shutdown.”
The MTA and DOT said in their December L train shutdown plan that additional station turnstiles and stairs to accommodate higher capacities will be introduced to numerous stations on the G lines, including Court Square in Long Island City, where the G train stops.
But Orlando insists that this alone won’t solve overcrowding. “I don’t think they are taking the situation that’s going to develop in Queens seriously,” she said. “Everyone is going to be funneled into Queens, but we’re already over capacity.”
The Access Queens founder urges the MTA to seriously consider additional measures outlined by the transit advocacy group itself, including opening up shuttered stations in Queens and issuing more free transfers during the tunnel shutdown.
Similarly, Pedro Gomez, president of the Court Square Civic Association, applauded the MTA and DOT for scheduling a visit to CB2 down the line. “I’m very appreciative that they are doing that. I think its a great first step.”
But Gomez says his community has been kept in the dark over how exactly it will be affected by the shutdown.
“The overall thing our group is calling for is how our shutdown is going to affect our neighborhood,” he said. “The only thing we’ve seen right now is adding stairs. That’s not addressing the issue of increased crowding on the subway, and I’m not sure how that’s going to mitigate the impact of the shutdown. Its just shuttling people.”
The MTA and DOT recently announced four open houses set for January and February in Brooklyn and Manhattan to inform the public on the Canarsie tunnel repairs. The tunnel was damaged after it was flooded with corrosive salt water during Superstorm Sandy.
“More meetings will be held before the tunnel repairs begin,” said Shams Tarek, spokesperson for the MTA.