Pols: L train answers hopefully coming next month

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

There is some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could finally offer details about its plans to close the L train tube to Manhattan for years of repairs as early as next month, say local pols who have been grilling the agency for weeks.

“There are no definitive details on a plan yet, but the timetable is within the next month or so we should be hearing their proposals,” said Heath Heimroth, chief of staff for state Sen. Martin Malave Dilan (D–Bushwick), who heads the senate’s transportation committee.

The transit authority will hold a public meeting sometime before April to lay out concrete options for the looming Canarsie Tube freeze, said Heimroth — hopefully providing answers to panicked straphangers who have been clamoring for news since word leaked in mid-January that the agency may shut the tunnel for years entirely while it fixes damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy.

Dilan and a handful of other pols — including Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Greenpoint), and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) — recently met privately with agency reps, but say they still didn’t get any firm commitments.

The tight-lipped transit agency is currently throwing around a few options for tackling the post-superstorm repairs along the two tunnels that go through the tube, Levin revealed at a recent community board meeting. It could stop the service entirely, which would take roughly two years, or it could close for only on nights and weekends, which could drag on for a whopping seven years.

The authority is also considering shutting one tunnel at a time, said Lentol’s spokesman Edward Baker, which would keep the connection open — albeit with delayed service — while construction is underway.

The work isn’t expected to begin until at least 2018, Lentol told the Daily News.

But the authority is also frantic to use an expiring pile of federal cash that can be put towards the restoration, said Baker — the city has $700 million in federal funds set side for Sandy repairs, which would cover the majority of the fix-up.

“This money is on the table and it needs to be used,” he said. “Whether it’s going to be available years down the road is something no one can predict.”

One thing the pols agree with the agency on — the tube is in crummy shape. Gallons of salt water wore down the concrete innards and exposed the underlying wiring during the 2012 hurricane, damaging it so much that workers will have to demolish and rebuild much of the atrophied structure, according to Baker.

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

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