Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the 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. This came about after the Governor convened a panel of engineering experts who determined a disruptive total shutdown was unnecessary.
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, 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, and regular weekday commutes for the bulk of L customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn were not disrupted.
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.
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.
“Everyone said, you had to close the tunnel and it was going to be closed for 15 to 18 months,” said Governor Cuomo. “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.
“The opposition to this new idea was an explosion. 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’s ahead of schedule, it’s under budget, and it was never shut down.”