Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, MTA Completes Project Three Months ahead of Current Schedule; Six Months ahead of Original Proposal That Included Full Tunnel Shutdown; and Under Budget - Saving $100 Million
L Train Service Will Resume on Both Tracks During Overnights and Weekends Starting Monday, April 27 under MTA Essential Service Plan
Additional L Project Station, Capacity and Accessibility Upgrades Slated to Be Completed by Fall 2020
Governor Cuomo: "The opposition to this new idea was an explosion. I was a meddler, I didn't have an engineering degree, they were outside experts, how dare you question the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy knows better. It was a thunderstorm of opposition. but we did it anyway, and we went ahead with it. And we rebuilt the tunnel, and the tunnel is now done better than before, with all these new techniques. It opens today."
Cuomo: "It opens today not in 15 months, but actually in only 12 months of a partial shutdown. So it's ahead of schedule, it's under budget, and it was never shut down. I relay this story because you can question and you should question why we do what we do. Why do we do it that way? I know that's how we've always done it, but why do we do it that way? And why can't we do it a different way?"
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the nation-leading, innovative L tunnel project is complete - six months earlier than the original proposal that would have shut down service, and three months ahead of the new innovative plan announced in January 2019, after the Governor convened a panel of engineering experts who determined a disruptive total shutdown was unnecessary. Completion came through under budget, saving more than $100 million in project costs. Beginning Monday, April 27, L train service will resume its previous service schedules with adjustments under the MTA Essential Service Plan.
In January of 2019, with a full L shutdown looming to repair damage from Superstorm Sandy, Governor Cuomo convened academic leaders - including the deans of the Cornell University and Columbia University engineering schools - to review the two L tubes and determine if the rehabilitation work could be completed in a more efficient manner. Following their review, the academic team recommended new construction methods and technology that have been used in transit systems around the world and several industries, yet never before integrated in a similar project in the United States. Once rehabilitation work began in April, these techniques allowed New York City Transit to continue to run subway service in the tunnel throughout construction so that regular weekday commutes for the bulk of L customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn were not disrupted. Prior to those recommendations, NYC Transit had planned to close the entire L train tunnel to demolish and reconstruct the tunnel's infrastructure.
The completion of the tunnel rehabilitation project, which began in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, comes amidst the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 global health pandemic. To ensure the project remained on schedule for completion, MTA Construction & Development implemented a number of aggressive health and safety protections for employees and contractors, including launching a new daily reporting app, mandatory use of personal protective equipment, around-the-clock disinfection of contact surfaces, a ban on sharing of tools and closure of common facilities, among other steps.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
There's a tunnel in New York called the L-train tunnel. People in New York City know it very well. It's a tunnel that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, and 400,000 people use this train and this tunnel. 400,000 people is a larger group than many cities in this country have, okay. So they had to close down the tunnel because the tunnel was old and the tunnel had problems and everybody looked at it and they said, we have to close down the tunnel. 400,000 people couldn't get to work without that train, and they had all these complicated plans on how they were going to mitigate the transportation problem and different buses and different cars and different bikes and different horses, the whole alternative transportation. And this went on for years.
Everyone said, you had to close the tunnel and it was going to be closed for 15 to 18 months. Now when government says it's going to be closed for 15 to 18 months, I hear 24 months to the rest of your life. That's my governmental cynicism. But that was the plan. We're going to close it down, rebuild the tunnel, 15 months to 18 months, the MTA. This was going to be a massive disruption. I heard a lot of complaints. I get a few smart people, Cornell engineers, Columbia engineers, we go down into the tunnel. And we look at it. And the engineers say, you know what? There's a different way to do this. And they talk about techniques that they use in Europe. And they say not only could we bring these techniques here, and we wouldn't have to shut down the tunnel at all. Period. We could just stop usage at nights and on weekends and we can make all of the repairs. And we can do it with a partial closure for 15 months.
The opposition to this new idea was an explosion. I was a meddler, I didn't have an engineering degree, they were outside experts, how dare you question the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy knows better. It was a thunderstorm of opposition. but we did it anyway, and we went ahead with it. And we rebuilt the tunnel, and the tunnel is now done better than before, with all these new techniques. It opens today. It opens today. And the proof is in the pudding, right? We went through this period of, I don't believe it, this is interference.
It opened today. And it opens today not in 15 months, but actually in only 12 months of a partial shutdown. So it's ahead of schedule, it's under budget, and it was never shut down. I relay this story because you can question and you should question why we do what we do. Why do we do it that way? I know that's how we've always done it, but why do we do it that way? And why can't we do it a different way? Why not try this? Why not try that? People don't like change, you know. We think we like change but we don't really like change. We like control more than anything, right?
So it's hard, it's hard to make change. It's hard to make change in your own life, let alone on a societal collective level. But if you don't change, you don't grow. And if you don't run the risk of change, you don't have the benefit of advancement. Not everything out there has to be the way it is. So we just went through this wild period where people are walking around with masks. Not because I said to, but because they understand they need to. How do we make it better? How do we make it better? And let's use this period to do just that. And we will. And we'll reimagine and we'll make it a reality because we are New York tough and smart and disciplined and unified and loving and because we know that we can. We know that we can. We showed that we can.