A transit advocacy group is pushing a radical proposal to help the city through a potential subway nightmare, a partial shutdown of the L line. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
No L trains beneath 14th Street, and no cars on it. All part of an idea to radically reshape one of the city's busiest crosstown streets should massive L line repairs lead to the shutdown of the line's five stations under the thoroughfare.
"Those trains carry 50,000 passengers a day, and the bus service above is carrying another 35,000. So making we can sure accomodate all those folks, I think we all agree, we're going to need to look at some real creative solutions for 14th Street," said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
Among them, a so-called "PeopleWay," with bus- and bike-only lanes, and expanded space for pedestrians. It would be created on 14th Street once the MTA begins repairing the L train's Sandy-damaged Brooklyn to Manhattan tunnel, now scheduled for 2019.
"Commissioner Trottenberg, the elected officials representing the areas know that this is a tremendous opportunity. As Commissioner Trottenberg said herself, this is a crisis not to be wasted," said Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives.
The MTA is weighing two alternatives to carry out the repairs. One would shut the tunnel for 18 months and halt all L trains west of Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. The other would spread the repairs over three years, allowing limited train service along 14th Street.
The "PeopleWay" proposal would permit speedier bus service by elimiating all cars.
"They don't need to be taking up space. I think more people should be riding bikes anyways," said one cyclist.
"It's really going to help. But it's still going to be like a little bit crazy like to get the concept, you know, full and running," said another.
Officials say there's still much to decide in how to carry out the L line repairs.
"We'd have to find some middle ground," Trottenberg said. "I mean, we have a lot of businsess and merchants on that street. We'll always need to have emergency vehicles. So I think we're going to look at a number of configurations."
The MTA has said it expects to finalize its plans for how to proceed during the L train work sometime in the next month. In the meantime, it's said it's going to work with the city to consider all options.