‘L-pocalypse’ now: L train to shutter for 15 weekends ahead of April closure

‘L-pocalypse’ now: L train to shutter for 15 weekends ahead of April closure
Photo by Paul Martinka

It’s a little taste of L.

Straphangers fretting the looming closure of the L train’s Brooklyn–Manhattan tube will realize their worst fears sooner than expected because city and state transit bigwigs recently announced they will shutter the underwater tunnel for 15 weekends leading up to the so-called “L-pocalypse” — beginning with this one.

Leaders of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority revealed the series of closures on the agency’s website on Saturday after sharing them with local community boards and electeds earlier this summer, much to the surprise of some commuters who believed they still had months to prepare for the project set to kick off next April.

“F––,” said Williamsburg resident and frequent L-train rider Rachel, who declined to give her last name. “I literally had no idea it was going to be closed. That’s some bulls—, honestly.”

From 11:30 pm on Friday through 5 am on Monday, the L train will not run between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenue and Manhattan — a roughly two-day service suspension set to repeat on 14 more weekends that include dates in October, November, February, March, and April, before its East River–spanning Canarsie Tube closes for 15 months of repairs to the superstorm Sandy–damaged infrastructure, according to the transportation authority.

News of the mini-closures came about nine months after city and state officials first dropped plans for how they’ll help shuttle the 225,000 daily L-train commuters between Brooklyn and Manhattan when it shutters for the big fix next year, during which the train will still run between Williamsburg and Canarsie.

The forthcoming 15 weekend service suspensions will allow transit bigwigs to ensure the subway’s tracks and signals are up-to-date before trains start traveling the modified local route next April, according to transportation authority honcho Andy Byford, who oversees the agency’s local arm, the New York City Transit Authority.

“Our crews are working hard on track and signal infrastructure during periods of lower ridership so that while the train tunnel is reconstructed and we run in Brooklyn only next year, it’s the most reliable service we can deliver on the line,” he said in a press release issued with the publication of the mini-closures.

But Byford and other transit brass should have been more forthcoming about the weekend service changes, instead of quietly releasing them on a Saturday one week before they were due to begin, according to another fed-up straphanger.

“I didn’t know it was going to be consecutive weekends. I think everyone should have been aware of that,” said Kaila Gee, who lives in Bushwick and commutes to Williamsburg on the L train daily. “It’s going to be a s—show.”

Following this weekend’s service suspension, the L train will not run between either Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenue or Broadway Junction stations and Manhattan on weekends including Oct. 5–8, 12–15, 19–22, and 26–29; Nov. 9–12 and 16–19; Feb. 1–4, 8–11, 15–18, and 22–25; March 1–4, 8–11, and 15–18; and April 12–15. The transportation authority will run free shuttle buses along the L line, as well as reroute certain subways, to ease commutes during the short-term suspensions, according to the agency.

And when the Canarsie Tube shutters next April, transit leaders will aid straphangers by boosting service on the G, J, M, and Z lines; adding cars to elongate G and C trains; launching a ferry route between Williamsburg and Manhattan; running new bike lanes along Grand Street; and creating a dedicated high-occupancy vehicle lane across the Williamsburg Bridge that will be reserved for cars with three or more passengers during a daily “rush-hour” window from 5 am to 10 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.