L train service was slated to shut down on April 27 in order to fix the 7,100-feet of the Canarsie Tunnel's tubes that sustained damage during Superstorm Sandy. This would have affected nearly 250,000 of the city's commuters.
Cuomo said his experts have proposed a "new design" for the tunnel restoration project.
"It uses many new innovations that are new, frankly, to the rail industry in this country ... With this design, it will not be necessary to close the L train tunnel at all, which would be a phenomenal benefit to the people of New York City," he said.
Instead of closing the Canarsie Tunnel and pulling out the benchwall containing cables damaged by Sandy, which would force the full closure, the MTA will now hang the new cables using a "racking system," which can be mounted on side of the tunnel's walls. The "racking system" would be wrapped in a protective fiberglass material, and sensors will allow the MTA to know if the rack moves.
The MTA will not remove the old benchwall, containing the old corroded cables, because doing so would require tunnel closures.
The governor said that commuters should not worry about the integrity of the tunnel: Major structural elements were not compromised. The MTA needs to fix the circuit breaker house and power cables that were damaged after the tubes flooded and were therefore exposed to salt water.
MTA will be able to run trains during the work, which will take around 15 to 20 months, depending on how much of the tunnel's benchwall needs to be removed.
Some night and weekend closures will be necessary, but they will be limited for one tube at a time, leaving the other available to run trains in both directions. Wait times will be longer: Each will run15 to 20 minutes apart.
This will all mean the L train contingency plans are no longer necessary, although the MTA plans to continue to run the extra G and 7 subway service.
A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio issued the following statement:
"So long as this new strategy proves to be real, the Mayor thinks this is great news for L-train riders. But like everyone else, the Mayor thinks the MTA has some real explaining to do about how it has handled this for the last few years. This is certainly no way to run a railroad."
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