The dreaded full shutdown of the L train between 8th Avenue in Manhattan and Bedford Ave in Brooklyn over 18 months, which was due to begin on April 27, 2019, has been halted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo toured the Canarsie Tube (aka the tunnel between 1st Ave in Manhattan and Bedford Ave, which sustained damage during Hurricane Sandy) in December of 2018 with engineering experts from Columbia and Cornell Universities. He shared his findings during a press conference on Thursday (1/3) afternoon:
To make a long story short, they have proposed a new design, to use in the tunnel. It is a design that has not been used in the United States before to the best of our knowledge. It has been implemented in Europe, it has never been implemented in a tunnel restoration project, they came up with that design suggestion. It uses many new innovations, that are new to, frankly, the rail industry in this country, but the MTA has gone through their recommendations, and gone through the new design, and the MTA believes that it is feasible. It is highly innovative, but it's feasible. Long story short, with this design, it will not be necessary to close the L Train tunnel at all, which will be a phenomenal benefit to the people of New York City. There would need to be some night and weekend closures of one tube.
According to Cuomo, the new plan for repairing the tunnel could be completed over 15-20 months, with work happening on nights and weekends and only a single tube at a time closed, instead of both. Mary Boyce and Lance Collins, the deans of Columbia and Cornell's engineering schools, respectively, presented the technical aspects of their recommendations, which you can look through on Gothamist.
From New York Times:
The subway tunnel itself was fine, the governor said, but the problem that needed to be addressed was salt water leeching into the tunnel and coming into contact with electrical components. “Salt water and electronics do not mix,’’ Mr. Cuomo said.
A key provision of the alternative plan eliminates the need to replace major portions of the bench wall, which runs along the side of the tunnel and houses electrical cables. The cables were corroded because of damage from Sandy, Mr. Cuomo said.
Instead, using what engineers referred to as a “racking system,” new cables would be mounted on the side of one wall and wrapped in protective material. A new power and control system would be installed and the old cables housed the bench wall would no longer be needed.
A key provision of the alternative plan eliminates the need to replace major portions of the bench wall, which runs along the side of the tunnel and houses electrical cables. Instead, a power and control system would be installed with new cables along the side of one wall.
MTA acting chair Fernando Ferrer said they'd be "renegotiating the scope of work and the project itself" with regards to contractor Judlau, who had previously won the $477 million contract for fixing the tunnel. He also insisted, "No L-pocalypse."