GRRR! Train tunnels to be closed for repairs

Court Street station is a filthy mess!
Photo by Tom Callan

Here’s two more reason to live and work in Brooklyn.

The MTA will close two of the tunnels that connect the outside world to Brooklyn, and now residents that work in lower Manhattan and Queens who are used to a once-seat ride to are going to have to start doing the subway shuffle.

The Montague Street tunnel under East River, which connects the R train to Manhattan, and the Greenpoint tube under Newtown Creek, which connects the G train to Queens, will both be closed for repairs thanks to damages wreaked by Hurricane Sandy, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The R train connector is in such bad shape it will not be used for 14 months starting in August. During that time, commuter trains will terminate at Court Street, where riders heading to downtown Manhattan can switch for free to the 4 or 5 train. On weekends, the R train will run over the Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan, following the N line’s path into Manhattan.

The G train connector will be closed for 12 weekends this year between July 6 and Dec. 15, and will be replaced with a shuttle bus that will get residents across the creek that separates Brooklyn from Queens. The MTA says that tunnel will be closed for five weeks in a row during the summer of 2014.

The MTA claims the closures are needed because of the havoc that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the tunnels last year.

“Closing these two subway tubes is a difficult but necessary step to restore them to the condition they were in before Sandy struck,” said Fernando Ferrer, the acting chairman of the MTA.

Both of the connectors were shut down for extensive periods after Hurricane Sandy — the G for 10 days and the R tunnel for nearly two months.

But repairs done at that point weren’t enough to get the trains running reliably, according to MTA offcials.

“Even after we restored service through the tubes again, signal and other component failures rose dramatically,” said Thomas Prendergast.

Problems in the Greenpoint tube include corroded cables and destroyed controls that make it impossible to adjust ventilation, lighting and communication systems, while the R tunnel suffer damages to duct banks that must be completely replaced so that the new cables can be run to replace those corroded by salt water.

Some riders of the G —commonly referred to as the Brooklyn Local even though it does venture to Queens — say they understands that the MTA has to get the work done, but hope the agency has a solid plan in place to make sure commuters can get to where they need to go.

“After Sandy, we had thousands of people walking over the bridge into Long Island City. There were shuttle buses, but you had no idea when they were going to show up and when they did show up, they were packed,” said Connor Mealey, who lives off of the Nassau stop in Greenpoint and uses the G train to commute to his job in Long Island City. “I hope the MTA took some lessons from that.”

The R is Bay Ridge’s lifeline to the rest of the city, and state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) has fired off a letter to the MTA and Mayor Bloomberg demanding increased service and lower fares on the neighborhood’s express buses into Manhattan, along with restored ferry service over the East River at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and a shuttle in Downtown to take people over the bridges.

During the R tunnel closure, service in Manhattan will terminate at Whitehall Street.

The Greenpoint, 21st Street and Court Square stations of the G is scheduled to shut down on 12 weekends between July 6 and Dec. 15.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

BROOKLYN LOCALS: The G train (above) and R train (below) will never leave Brooklyn when tunnel work is performed by the MTA.
File photo by Mike McLaughlin