Community groups file lawsuit to stop planned L train shutdown

More than two dozen community groups in Greenwich Village and Chelsea are trying to stop a 15-month planned shutdown of the L train from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

The MTA is closing the line to make much needed repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel.

The group filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday titled "14th Street Coalition vs. Metropolitan Authority," stating the city's plan will cause massive traffic congestion and hurt businesses. The Coalition consists of nearly two dozen neighborhood organizations and a disability rights organization.

"They have assured the public that there is no danger right now in the Canarsie Tunnel. And if there is a danger, I don't understand why they have to opt for the most severe consequence," said Arthur Z. Schwartz with Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, who is representing the Coalition.

"We're not asking for damages. It's just a lawsuit asking for an injunction," said Schwartz.

The MTA, NYC DOT and FTA (Federal Transportation Authority) are named in the lawsuit, which says an Environmental Impact Study was not conducted and the mitigation plan is not accessible for the disabled.

"Our concern is that even though we gave input, these plans were designed only with the commuters in mind," said Judy Pesin of the 14th Street Coalition.

"We do not comment on pending litigation," said the MTA in a written statement. "The repairs to the Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel are desperately needed to ensure the tunnel's structural integrity so we can continue to provide safe and reliable subway service to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who depend on the L train every day. We are working with our partners at NYC DOT to craft a thorough and robust mitigation plan."

"I don't think the lawsuit has any merit, but I will say we want to continue to work with the public," said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "We are trying the best we can to mitigate the impacts for everybody. I can't promise no impacts though. You can have a shutdown of this magnitude and not have impacts."

The train line closure is part of a construction project to repair damage to the Canarsie Tunnel caused during Superstorm Sandy. Salt water that flooded the tunnel caused the corrosion of cabling, power infrastructure and track equipment.

This will impact more than 400,000 daily L train riders, 225,000 of which travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Most riders -- about 70 to 80 percent -- are expected to take different subway lines.

Work is slated to begin in April 2019.

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