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L Train Tunnel Repair Timeline Trimmed to 15 Months

L Tunnel Repair Timeline Shortened

Great news for L Subway train riders: The rehabilitation of the Canarsie Tunnel under the East River has been shortened to 15 months.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials previously expected to shut down the tunnel for 18 months to repair extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy. But under a $477 million contract to a joint venture consisting of Judlau Contracting Inc. and TC Electric, the firms will receive an additional $15 million in incentives to complete the repairs in 15 months. Contractual provisions were included to expedite demolition, encourage acceleration of the tunnel work, deter delays, enable traffic mitigation work, and the testing and commissioning of systems. The tunnel, which connects the L Subway train to Brooklyn and Manhattan, is now scheduled to close for these repairs in April 2019. 

Sandy's storm surge left extensive damage to the tunnel's tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long section of both tubes that was flooded in October 2012. MTA New York City Transit has taken steps to ensure the Canarsie Tunnel remains reliable and safe for service until permanent repairs can be performed. The agency is inspecting the tunnel’s walls more frequently, and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption. 

To expedite the repair and reconstruction process, NYC Transit will implement procedures to ensure that the project advances in a fast-tracked fashion similar to the expedited nature of design-build projects. The work will be extensive: Demolition and reconstruction of approximately 60,000 linear feet of duct banks, 14,400  linear feet of track and track bed, 270,000  linear feet of cable ducts and associated cables, repair of 7,000 linear feet  of concrete lining, and the installation of tunnel lighting and fire systems. The tunnel will be also be protected from future storms with resiliency measures including construction of resilient cables and ducts and the installation of a new discharge line. Prior to the tunnel closure, extensive station work will be performed that will increase operational efficiency and improve accessibility and circulation. Station improvements at the 1 Av and Bedford Av L Subway stations will include new stairways, and four accessibility-compliant elevators and other work to improve customer flow.

Construction of a new power substation on Avenue B and other infrastructure will address power requirements that, combined with the existing CBTC (Computer-Based Train Control) signal system, will allow NYC Transit to run more L Subway trains to accommodate growing ridership. At the successful completion of these repairs, L Subway train customers will reap the benefit of a safer ride, more reliable and frequent service, and improved accessibility and new, wider stairs for entering and exiting quickly at the 1 Av and Bedford Av stations. 

“The heavy damage sustained by the Canarsie Tunnel during Superstorm Sandy requires a full reconstruction in order to ensure the integrity of the tunnel and the safety of riders for generations to come,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “At the same time, we promised to do everything possible to mitigate the impact of this vital work on line riders, and today, we’ve done just that, by shortening the tunnel closure from 18 months to 15 months.” 

The MTA and NYC DOT are continuing work on possible alternate travel options during the planned tunnel closure, which will affect L Subway customers who use the line to travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn and those who use the line as a crosstown travel route in Manhattan. The MTA and NYC DOT have reached out to the public via town halls and community workshops, meeting with residents, businesses, community boards, merchant groups and civic associations in Brooklyn and Manhattan communities along the L Subway line. The meetings have been successful forums to provide information on the Canarsie Tunnel repairs and to solicit community feedback on possible alternate travel options.  

The Canarsie Tunnel was flooded during Superstorm Sandy.
MTA employees used a pump train to pump seawater out of the L train's tunnel under the East River. The tunnel was flooded during the unprecedented 13-foot storm surge of Superstorm Sandy.