L Train ‘Slowdown’ Ends As Tunnel Repairs Finish Ahead Of Schedule

Steve Burns
April 26, 2020 - 6:48 pm
Cuomo L train

Gov. Andrew Cuomo/Flickr

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Repairs in the Sandy-damaged L train tunnel under the East River are done ahead of schedule and under budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday—but there are lingering concerns about those repairs.

At his coronavirus briefing, Cuomo said the repairs were supposed to last 15 months but were completed three months sooner.

The completion of the repairs is the end of a years-long saga. L train riders avoided a total shutdown after Cuomo gave a last-minute directive, sending the MTA back to the drawing board. The resulting “slowdown” saw less frequent service on nights and weekends since last April.

Danny Pearlstein of the Riders Alliance said it remains to be seen if this patching over is as durable and long-lasting as the original plan.

“Now the concern is that it won't last quite as long as new tunnel walls,” Pearlstein said,” But ultimately, you know, we won't know that for probably a couple more decades.”

The work is supposed to give L train riders faster, more frequent service. But given the coronavirus outbreak, it will be awhile before that can become evident—MTA ridership has been down more than 90 percent.

It’s been 7 ½ years since Sandy damaged the tunnel, and there’s still more work to do to recover from the devastating storm.

“We’re encouraged by them getting this project done that they can get others done soon too,” Pearlstein said.

The F train tunnel to Brooklyn still needs repairs. Tunnels used by New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road were also damaged in Sandy and still need work, though both are owned by Amtrak.

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