Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that the full L train shutdown was unnecessary uprooted years of planning and preparation overnight, and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez is calling for the city to be reimbursed for all its effort.
Rodriguez didn’t have the total for how much the city spent so far on L train shutdown contingency efforts, but said the City Council will start the process of tallying it all up. He also called on the Department of Transportation to “put those numbers together,” including details like how much the city spend on surveys to get feedback from MTA riders.
“I’m calling for New York City to be reimbursed every single dollar, every single penny that we have spent planning for the shutting of the L train,” he told reporters from the steps of City Hall on Wednesday.
It’s been a week since Cuomo called off the L train shutdown, but without many details on the new repair plan made public, officials and residents say they have plenty of unanswered questions.
To get some answers, Rodriguez on Wednesday also called for a transportation oversight hearing on the project, during which he says the MTA should be more transparent and present new L train tunnel reconstruction plan in full. He hopes to schedule that hearing sometime in February.
What will happen to the L train shutdown mitigation plan? Not everyone supports
Transit activists and elected officials have said that although the L train shutdown may not happen as anticipated, the mitigation plan still needs to be inplace to offset congestion and help commuters when MTA service is disrupted.
“One hundred percent, I believe that the mitigation plan is something that we should take advantage of,” Rodriguez said. “I believe it is our responsibility to make our city more walkable, more friendly toward cyclists and pedestrians. I believe the mitigation plan was a good plan that we put on the table, and we should continue with the plan regardless of if the L train continues operation.”
But residents who live around 14th Street in Manhattan disagree. L train shutdown mitigation efforts, like turning 14th Street into a busway, banning vehicle traffic there for 17 hours a day, and expanding pedestrian walkways and bike lanes in the area, would make things worse for those within the surrounding community, the 14th Street Coalition argues.
“There’s thousands and thousands of people that live on 14th street that need access, young people with families or disabled people who need to have access and a bus up and down the street isn’t going to be the answer,” said Judy Pesin of the coalition.
Pesin agreed that the city should be reimbursed for all its spent in preparation of the L train shutdown, but disagreed that the mitigation efforts would still be necessary.
An M14SBS route was planned to help during the L train shutdown. iStock
Residents have already seen issues like emergency vehicles struggling to get through and more traffic spilling onto side streets, according to Pesin, due to street modifications necessary to prep the thoroughfare for the increased L train shutdown traffic. Pesin says she’s also seen cyclists riding the wrong way or not within bike lanes, and that there needs to be more regulation and enforcement of traffic in the area.
Officials said the L train shutdown could cause as many as 42,000 extra vehicles on 14th Street, but now that a full shutdown isn’t likely, Pesin wonders what the mitigation need will really be.
“The focus has been and continues to be on moving people through the neighborhood, without much care for the people in the neighborhood,” she said. “Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer already said she’s for the busway. I just want to know based on what? Where’s the need and where’s the understanding of the needs of the residents?”
Brewer did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told reporters on Sunday that she backs the 14th Street busway, “because I want to see more alternative modes of transportation, but it has to be discussed.”