Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio took the L train to Grand Street, where he both acknowledged the nervousness from commuters and doubled down on the city and state’s plan to mitigate the transit nightmare that will begin next April.
“This is going to cause some real dislocation, but we’re going to make sure there are plans in place to make sure people can get around,” de Blasio said.
More than 400,000 riders take the L train daily, including 225,000 people who take it across the East River. But after Superstorm Sandy damaged the Canarsie tube, the MTA, with agreement from the public, opted to shut down the tunnel for 15 months of repairs.
The L train will not run from Bedford Avenue to 8th Avenue on the west side on Manhattan. It will continue to run from Williamsburg to Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie.
De Blasio said he knows the shutdown will not only extend commutes, but it will also strain local businesses that rely on customers using mass transit.
“None of that is easy,” the mayor said, “but we also know that New Yorkers are tough and resilient and adaptable, and that we will find our way through this.”
To move the hundreds of thousands of commuters from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT), which have worked together on mitigation solutions, will send 80 buses per hour across the Williamsburg Bridge.
The mayor estimates that will accommodate 30,000 people per day.
The city also plans to make major changes to 14th Street in Manhattan and Grand Street in Brooklyn to ease congestion for riders using mass transit.
“It’s clear that Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, and Bushwick are the areas that are going to be hit the most,” de Blasio said. “So this is where we have to make sure we’re ready.”
Officials also expect ferry and bikes to be alternative traveling options. The city will increase servicde to eight boats per hour, but only expect the ferry to carry about 5 percent of displaced riders.
“The dock capacity is not that large, so it’s not going to be a huge piece of the puzzle,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “I think it’ll be focused on people who live near the Williamsburg waterfront.”
As for small businesses, de Blasio said the city will help make sure they have “dedicated parking areas and loading areas” so the disruption doesn’t hurt shops too bad.
The mayor committed to running a “war-room dynamic” to make adjustments when the time comes.
“If we need more enforcement, we’re going to do it. If we need more personnel, we’re going to do it,” he said. “If we need to run more buses than it’s possible to –– whatever it takes to make things work.
“We’re going to be focused and making whatever changes we need,” de Blasio added.