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L on Earth: Service between Brooklyn and Manhattan could shut for years! • Brooklyn Paper

L on Earth: Service between Brooklyn and Manhattan could shut for years!

Crowds on the L train will be thinner, thanks to enhanced service, transit officials say.
The Brooklyn Paper / Richard Moon

Prepare for commuter L.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority may halt all L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan for up to three years to expedite repairs on damage to the tunnel caused by Hurricane Sandy, as first reported by Gothamist.

The Canarsie Tube, which carries the hipster express under the East River, needs some serious repairs after being ravaged by seven million gallons of salt water back in 2012, claimed an agency spokesman — and the need is so dire the authority may get it all over with in a years-long construction binge rather than spread it out over weekend closures.

“We are weighing all of our options,” said Kevin Ortiz.

A long-term closure would be a massive pain in the butt for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who depend on the line to get around, but the all-in approach may be the most efficient and cost-effective way to carry out the much-needed repairs, according to a former transit authority employee.

“The more you stretch it out, the more disruptive it is,” said transit buff Joe Raskin, who penned a book on subway history during his tenure at the agency. “No matter what you do, work has to be done — the thing to do is to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.”

The transit authority was unable to explain how it would manage the L train’s enormous ridership during the closure, or whether shuttle buses would be provided. The authority also could not say when it will decide on a conclusive repair plan.

If the agency decides to go through with the years-long closure, straphangers who live off the heavily peopled line may have to find new ways to make their commutes into Manhattan. One rider, who has befriended the local peoples on the distant isle, says she will probably end up having to pay for an Uber to see her pals.

“The L train is kind of my only option to get into downtown’s East Village, which is where most of my friends live,” said Williamsburg resident Aisha Stordeur. “It will definitely be interesting as far as my Uber bill is concerned.”

Local businesses along the route already endured weekend closures for repairs last year, losing big tourist bucks in the process. At the time, many businesses offered discounts to entice visitors to find a alternative routes to reach their registers, and one long-time shopkeep says she will probably use similar emergency measures this time around.

“When the power goes out, what do you do?” said Harry Rosenblum, who co-owns Frost Street culinary shop the Brooklyn Kitchen with his wife Taylor Erkkinen. “These are the things you face as a business owner — we just need to be more creative.”

But it is not all bad news — R train commuters who were cut off from Manhattan for 13 months during similar repairs on the Montague Tube reported that the service was more punctual when the train ran as a Brooklyn local.

The agency is also seeking $300 million from the federal government to increase capacity and fix up stations on L line, which has become increasingly over-crowded at neighborhoods along the track have boomed. It said in 2014 that it planned to coordinate the upgrades with the tunnel repairs.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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