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Monday, January 18, 2016

Regarding the Closure of the East River "L" Train Tunnels

Last week, we have been informed that the MTA is planning to close the East River tunnels of the 14th Street Canarsie Line (L Train) for a period of time in order to repair water damage from Hurricane Sandy.  It is not clear if the tunnels would be closed for a period of months or for weekends.  The problem is that the "L" train is one of the most busiest lines in the city with little parallel services near by.  For its western part, the "L" train is isolated from other subway services.  The "L" train runs along 14th Street  in Manhattan from 8th Avenue eastward toward Canarsie in the eastern part of the borough.  The "L" train serves the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the now popular sections of Williamsburgh and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

  There is presently a discussion in subchat and elsewhere how to lessen the impact of a closure of part of this busy line.  Proposals such as express bus service, BRT, increased service on the surround lines such as the J, Z and G lines has been mentioned.  In a very interesting New York Division Bulletin of the Electric Railroaders' Association (Vol. 32, No. 8, pp. 1, 4,  August, 1989)  "Transit Authority's New Initiatives" lists a number of projects that if money came available, the transit authority would like to do.   Looking back over these 28 years shows that some of these proposals came to pass.  For the subject at hand, see this proposal:  "Installation of two crossovers between the A and G lines south of Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets, IND  Division, to allow E, F and R trains from Queens to reach Manhattan via the Eight Avenue Line.

Please see the track map obtained from  Believe it or not, there is no track connection between the G and A and C trains at this point.  I am not sure if a retaining wall would need to be removed.  Basically, if constructed, some G trains going south would be able to cross over to the Manhattan bound A/C train tracks and proceed to Manhattan.  This would allow  Williamsburgh residents who live near the G train have direct access to Manhattan without transferring .  Going home from Manhattan, some G trains on Eight Avenue Tracks would switch to the G train tracks going north.    Such a service would create and endless loop if this new service started from Forest Hills 71st Avenue.  Let us call this a "Y" train. It would start at Forest Hills, go to Manhattan via Queens Boulevard, Manhattan via 53rd or 63rd Street tunnels, either via A, C or F trains to Brooklyn.  Switch at Hoyt-Schermerhorn to the G train tracks and return to Williamsburgh and Queens Boulevard to it's origin at 71st Avenue!

There are many "ifs" about this:

  1. Does the transit authority have extra cars to equip these new services?
  2. How much would these switches cost to install?
  3. How long would it take... are major changes to the infrastructure required?
  4. Would direct service to Manhattan for G line users help their situation when the L line is closed?
  5. How long would it take to install?
  6. If there is not enough equipment, where can this "Y" service be turned in Manhattan?
  7. Can the Cranberry Street Tube (A, C) between High Street and Fulton Street carry more trains per hour?
All this has to be analyzed by experts.  It is interesting that this was proposed in 1989 as another was for Queens E, F and R trains to reach Manhattan should a blockage occur in western Queens.

Please see trackmap attached:  Notice no track connection between the G train tracks (green) and the A or C train tracks (blue).  A crossover would allow some  southbound G trains to venture in Manahatan.  Question:  Where can they be turned?  I mentioned above a hypothetical loop from Forest Hills to Forest Hills.  The Culver Line, probably between 1954 and 56 also had a loop line that started and ended at Ditmas Avenue during rush hours.

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