Contact Us

Cuomo's L-Train Plan Was Rejected By MTA Over Safety Fears Five Years Ago

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rides the subway in 2014.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged as a transportation hero earlier this month when his decision to keep the L-train running was met with relief from Brooklyn residents and property owners who were dreading the planned 15-month shutdown.

But it turns out key parts of the plan had already been considered — and rejected — by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority back in 2014. The Canarsie Tunnel, which carries the L train between Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan, was due to shut down for 15 months starting in April this year.

Cuomo's new plan would keep the train going during years of repairs. But five years ago, according to documents obtained by the New York Times, the MTA rejected a similar plan for several reasons, including that it could allow cancer-causing dust to spread and endanger workers and travelers.

Cuomo’s approach involves installing new cables on the inside of the tunnel's walls with a racking system, and only replacing the walls that are structurally unsound and building support for the walls that need replacing with a fiber polymer. However, the MTA had also considered mounting cables — as opposed to burying them in the wall, where they currently are — but engineers feared that could damage the wall lining.

The authority also raised concerns about fixing one tube at a time in short bursts on nights and weekends, which is part of Cuomo’s plan, saying that would make it hard to clean up a dangerous mineral called silica dust that could be created during construction.

Additionally, engineers pointed to a “high risk” it wouldn’t be possible to get the trains back running on time every Monday morning after shutdowns.

MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek told the Times the new repair plan is “efficient, safe and a long-term solution.”

”This new project is different and significantly better than the one that was rejected years ago, including its approach to cable racking and the integration of proven techniques that will significantly limit benchwall removal and the potential for silica dust,” he said in a statement.

Jerry Jannetti, a senior vice president at engineering consultant WSP, which provided the report in 2014 and is leading the planning for the new plan, said there will be fewer bolts used on the train tunnel walls, which will “pose no risk.”

“Any issues related to silica dust will be managed by the contractor and overseen by an independent consultant, and will be safe for both workers and riders,” he told the Times.