NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that a full shutdown of the L train set for April is unnecessary.
At a press conference, Cuomo and acting chair of the MTA Fernando Ferrer said they will use a new design in the Canarsie Tunnel in order to prevent a full shutdown of the transit line.
"With this design, it would not be necessary to close the L train tunnel at all, which would be a phenomenal benefit for the people of New York City," Cuomo said. He added, "There will be no shutdown."
The governor said the rail line's wiring was damaged by the salt water that entered the tunnel during Superstorm Sandy, but the major structural elements of the tunnel were not affected.
He had gathered a group of engineers from Columbia and Cornell universities to assess the damage and come up with a plan to avert the shutdown.
“Based on these recommendations we will not be shutting down the tunnel and no full closure of service between Manhattan and Brooklyn will be necessary. No ‘L-pocalypse,’” said Ferrer.
Instead of a labor intensive project to knock down a wall and replace the damaged wiring inside, their plan has proposed replacing the corroded wires inside the tunnel wall with new ones along the tunnel's interior.
“No rail system has used this approach before, so it really is, from their point of view, exciting,” Cuomo said.
The Democratic governor says the plan could also save the city thousands of dollars but explained there still may need to be some night and weekend closures to complete the work.
The shutdown was scheduled to begin April 27 and would have lasted 15 months, most likely causing one of the biggest transit disruptions in New York City’s history.
The MTA claimed the shutdown, dubbed "L-mageddon," was necessary in order to repair the structure connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.
As WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio reacted with reserve about the governor's new approach, but declared flatly, "anything that avoids disruption, I favor, obviously," adding, "a lot of people in Brooklyn and Manhattan have been worried about the L train shutdown."
His honor noted, "One, I want to reserve judgment until I've got a thorough briefing on the plan. Two, whatever the plan is, we have to confirm that it's going to work in terms of the reality that we're facing."
The mayor says, for now anyway, plans to mitigate problems related to a total shutdown remain.
"I would just caution everyone, we're not undoing anything we've done in the short-term," de Blasio said. "We're going to keep all of our current approach in place until everything is settled, but that said, if it's an improvement for people's lives, if it helps us avoid a lot of dislocation, of course I like it."
The L train carries an estimated 225,000 daily riders between the boroughs and the MTA had planned to add more trains to the J, M, Z and G lines, more ferry service and more bike lanes to make up for the service disruption.
Last month, Cuomo toured the L train tunnel with a group of engineering experts to see if there would be another way to repair the infrastructure.