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EXCLUSIVE: R train’s East River tunnel may reopen early

R we there yet?: Transit insiders say that track geometry cars like this one — which check subway lines after repairs are done — are testing the Montague Street Tunnel.
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The R train could be arriving in Manhattan ahead of schedule.

The tunnel that carries the R train between Brooklyn and Manhattan — which has been closed for more than a year — may reopen ahead of schedule, according to insiders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A staffer working to restore the Montague Street Tunnel said the tube, which was closed in August 2013 for post-Hurricane Sandy repairs, will likely be up and running before October, weeks ahead of its scheduled reopening.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the worker said the Authority has already begun sending track geometry cars — automated track-inspection vehicles loaded with high-tech gizmos — through the tunnel to make sure new construction is up to snuff, which is one of the final steps before returning a route to service.

An agency spokesman would not confirm the claim, but hinted that there might be truth in the rumor.

“On schedule for October, maybe sooner,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Not elaborating further, sorry.”

The Authority closed the tunnel because Hurricane Sandy’s salty flood water corroded its mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

The $308 million rehabilitation includes work on tracks, tunnel lighting, circuit-breaker housings, power substations, pump rooms, power cables, fans, and ducts, according to the transit agency. Workers also repaired leaks in the tube and replaced thousands of bolts that hold the tunnel’s 18-foot cast iron tunnel rings in place.

The R train has been running along the Q line between DeKalb Avenue Downtown and Canal Street in Manhattan on weekends.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeg‌er@cn‌gloca‌l.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
R train riders could be heading to Manhattan through the Montague Street tunnel earlier than expected.

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