Planned L Train Closure FAQs
In April 2019, the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries subway riders between Brooklyn and Manhattan, will close for 15 months to repair damage sustained during 2012's Superstorm Sandy. L train service along 14th Street in Manhattan will be suspended during the closure.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA") and NYC Department of Transportation ("NYCDOT") proposed a set of strategies to mitigate the effects of the closure and to provide transportation alternatives. These plans will have a significant impact on the Union Square-14th Street district.
This webpage was created to help our community learn more and prepare for impacts of the L train's closure. It outlines key information and resources provided by the MTA and NYCDOT to date. We will continue to update this FAQs page as additional details are provided by relevant City and State agencies.
Resources + Presentations
For the latest about the plans, please access the resources below, which include community presentations, traffic studies, and other relevant information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the timeline for the L train shutdown?
The L train shutdown will begin in April 2019 and will last for 15 months. NYCDOT plans to begin work on streetscape treatments, such as sidewalk extensions and bus lane markings, to 14th Street and adjacent streets in summer 2018 into the fall months. Key milestone dates include:
- Winter 2018: MTA and NYCDOT presentations to community stakeholders
- Summer 2018: Additional update presentations from NYCDOT + MTA on plan
- Summer – Fall 2018: Installation and construction of streetscape treatments begin along 14th Street and other affected areas
- January 2019: MTA begins initial operation of the new M14 Select Bus Service ("SBS") route
- April 2019: L train closure begins
- July 2020: Estimated completion of Canarsie Tunnel repairs and resumption of L train service
2. Where can I find the information that was presented at the open houses and community board meetings?
In the first half of 2018, the MTA and NYCDOT gathered input on their plans from local residents and businesses at several community open houses and town halls, and during presentations at the Manhattan and Brooklyn community boards that represent affected neighborhoods. After collecting community feedback, MTA and NYCDOT released updated mitigation plans in summer 2018. If you were unable to attend these meetings, you can view the presentations online at the MTA’s resources page.
3. What changes to 14th Street are outlined in the proposed mitigation plan?
NYCDOT plans to convert 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues eastbound, and 3rd and 8th Avenues westbound into a busway. The busway would have three lanes – one lane that will serve as a bus stop and two lanes for bus and local delivery travel. Proposed peak hours will be between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
MTA and NYCDOT estimate a 50% increase in pedestrian volume around Union Square. Around 14th Street and 6th Avenue, which is also a Vision Zero corridor, pedestrian volume is expected to double in size. To address the increased density of pedestrians, the agencies have proposed streetscape enhancements to accommodate increased pedestrian foot traffic on 14th Street and mitigate congestion along key blocks and intersections. Changes include:
- Extend sidewalks to add approximately 50,000 square feet of new pedestrian area
- Temporary bus boarders and passing lanes at bus stops
- Add 75 commercial loading spots on 14th Street
- Private vehicles restrictions during peak hours
4. How will existing Manhattan L train riders get across town during the shutdown?
The MTA plans to provide a new M14 SBS route along 14th Street to help accommodate the estimated 50,000 passengers that currently use the L train within and across Manhattan. The M14 SBS will originate at Stuyvesant Cove at 20th Street and terminate at 10th Avenue, stopping on 14th Street near existing L train stations.
For riders originating in or heading toward Brooklyn, the MTA will create new L1 and L4 bus routes that follow the L line from Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge and then goes north on 1st Avenue. The bus will circulate at East 15th Street and then head south down 2nd Avenue. During late nights, a L14 SBS will travel from Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, across the Williamsburg Bridge, north on 1st Avenue, and along 14th Street.
During peak times, the MTA projects that nearly 60 M14 SBS and local buses will run per hour. Agencies also estimate between 15.8-16.5 minutes of river-to-river transit time between Avenue C to 8th Avenue on the M14 SBS during morning and evening peak transit hours. This is about 5-9 minutes faster compared to current bus transit times.
To ensure optimal traffic flow along the corridor, NYCDOT is reviewing all existing M14 A/D bus stop locations, as well as possible locations for the new M14 SBS stops. NYCDOT has proposed removing the M14 A/D westbound stop on the north side of 14th Street near Union Square West, as well as consolidating two eastbound stops into one stop on the south side of 14th Street near University Place.
5. When will the M14 SBS begin operating?
MTA will begin operating the M14 SBS on January 6, 2019 before L train service ends to allow riders to try out the new SBS route before the 15-month closure. Operating hours will be 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The initial M14 SBS route will make five stops between First Avenue and Tenth Avenue. The M14 SBS route will mimic the L train stops. In March 2019, MTA will extend the M14 SBS route along the full route beginning at the new Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing.
6. What are "peak hours" for the 14th Street Busway?
MTA and NYCDOT proposed that peak hours exist from 5:00 AM - 10:00 PM. The agencies continue to gather feedback from community stakeholders and residents and assess potential impacts from vehicle restrictions.
7. will PRIVATE vehicles be permitted on 14th street?
Vehicular traffic on the 14th Street busway during peak hours will be restricted to buses (e.g., MTA buses, school buses, commercial buses), Access-A-Ride vehicles, emergency vehicles, and local delivery trucks. Private vehicles accessing parking garages on 14th Street or making pickups and drop-offs are allowed, but these vehicles must exit the busway on the next right turn. This will be enforced by NYPD traffic cameras. Through trucks will not be allowed on 14th Street during the peak hour period.
8. HOW WILL UNION SQUARE WEST + UNIVERSITY PLACE BE IMPACTED?
Portions of the Union Square West roadway will be closed to vehicular traffic and repurposed as expanded walkways for pedestrian use. The blocks of Union Square West between 14th + 15th Streets and 16th +17th Streets will be closed to vehicular traffic. The block of Union Square West between 15th and 16th Streets will receive treatments to convert it into a service loop for vehicles. NYCDOT will also install a bike lane along Union Square West to improve bike connectivity between Broadway and University Place.
The block of University Place between 13th and 14th Streets will become a shared street. The existing Citi Bike kiosk on University Place between 13th and 14th Street will potentially be expanded.
In total, the street treatments along Union Square West and University Place will create an additional 19,000 square-feet of public space.
9. Will additional Bicycling infrastructure be created?
NYCDOT proposes the installation of additional bike lanes to accommodate an anticipated 5,000 cyclists and to improve safety as part of the City’s Vision Zero goals. Proposed changes include:
- Putting in place one-way protected bike lanes on 12th Street for eastbound travel and 13th Street for westbound travel. Currently, both streets have one travel lane and parking on both sides of the street.
- Adding a southbound bike lane along Union Square West from 17th Street to University Place. This will facilitate connection down Broadway to the crosstown 13th Street bike lane.
10. what improvements will be made to the subway stations during the Closure?
During this period, MTA plans to make several critical improvements to subway stations in the district, including 1st Avenue, 3rd Avenue, Union Square – 14th Street, and 6th Avenue. Key changes include:
- 1st Avenue will become fully ADA accessible with an elevator and additional stairs, as well as a new entrance at Avenue A.
- 3rd Avenue will receive platform repairs, ADA boarding areas, and other structural repairs.
- Union Square station will receive station capacity enhancements, including additional turnstiles and an escalator to the “L” train platform.
- 6th Avenue will receive platform repairs, ADA boarding areas (e.g., rumble strips, signage), and track wall, column and floor repairs. Additionally, elevators will be installed at the L line at 6th Avenue and 14th Street.
11. Will the STREETSCAPE AND TRANSIT changes REMAIN IN PLACE after the L train reopens?
The MTA and NYCDOT have stated that most streetscape changes made during the L train shutdown will be implemented using flexible, non-permanent materials. Some transit changes, such as the crosstown M14 SBS service, may remain in place as part of the city's long-term plan to expand city-wide SBS services over the next decade.
Throughout this period, NYCDOT and MTA will monitor traffic and pedestrian flows, capture other relevant data, and evaluate impacts to determine the best streetscape and transportation options once L train service resumes.
12. Will the l train be closed leading up to the spring 2019 shutdown?
In the period leading up to the Spring 2019 L train shutdown, MTA and NYCDOT's most recent plans announced that there will be several 2018 weekend closures taking place. These dates include:
- February 2nd -3rd
- February 9th - 10th
- February 16th - 17th
- February 23rd - 24th
- March 2nd - 3rd
- March 9th - 10th
- March 16th - 17th
- April 13th - 14th
August 11th - 12th
October 6th - 7th
October 13th - 14th
October 20th - 21st
October 27th - 28th
November 10th - 11th
Share Your Questions
The Union Square Partnership will continue to compile any relevant feedback received from our businesses, residents, and community stakeholders. We also encourage stakeholders and community members to reach out to MTA and NYCDOT with any concerns. If you have further questions regarding the L train’s impact on the greater Union Square community, please send us a note.