Planned L Train Closure FAQs

 

Overview

In April 2019, the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries subway riders between Brooklyn and Manhattan, will close for fifteen 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 – Fall 2018: Installation and construction of streetscape treatments begin along 14th Street and other affected areas
  • Early 2019: MTA anticipates rolling out 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. I wasn't able to attend the Open Houses or Community Board Meetings. Where can I find the information that was presented? 

In January and February 2018, the MTA and NYCDOT hosted four community open houses to gather input from local residents and businesses, and also presented their plans to the Manhattan and Brooklyn community boards that represent affected neighborhoods. If you were unable to attend, you can view the presentations online at the MTA’s resources page.

 

3. How will existing Manhattan L train riders get across town during the shutdown?

The MTA plans to provide a new 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 a new L1 bus route that follows the L line from Brooklyn, crosses 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 night, the L1 bus may also run on the M14 SBS route on 14th Street.

ProposedBusStops.jpg

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. At this time, we know that 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. Information will be updated as bus stop locations are finalized. 

 

4. 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. Private vehicles will be prohibited from 14th Street during peak hours.

The City also 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
MTADOT 14th St.jpg
 

5. will PRIVATE vehicles will 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, local delivery trucks, and cars accessing private parking garages on 14th Street. All other private vehicles, taxis, for-hire vehicles (e.g., Uber, Lyft), and through trucks will not be allowed on 14th Street during the peak hour period. 

 

6. What are "peak hours" for the 14th Street Busway?

MTA and NYCDOT are still determining the peak hour periods when vehicle restrictions will be enforced for the busway. The agencies continue to gather feedback from community stakeholders and residents and assess potential impacts from vehicle restrictions.  

 
 Example of a bike valet station operated by Citi Bike for high-volume bike zones. Image Source: MTA

Example of a bike valet station operated by Citi Bike for high-volume bike zones. Image Source: MTA

7. 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 also be closed to vehicular traffic. A new bike parking valet will be installed on the block, and the existing Citi Bike kiosk 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. 

MTADOT University and USQ West.jpg

8. 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: 

  • Adding a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th Street. Currently, 13th Street has one travel lane and parking on both sides of the street. The street design would have one vehicle travel lane, one parking lane, and two 5-foot eastbound and westbound bike lanes separated from the vehicle travel lane by a 3-foot buffer. River-to-river transit time on the 13th Street bikeway is estimated at 12 minutes. About 236 parking spots will be lost to accommodate the two-way bike lane, but NYCDOT analysis supports that 13th Street is the most suitable option for connectivity and lowest losses of total parking space compared to other streets north and south of 13th Street. Full analysis details are available in the 14th Street Corridor Traffic Analysis.
  • 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.
MTADOT 13th St.jpg

9. 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 be the first pilot station for platform screen doors. Additional platform repairs, ADA boarding areas, and other structural repairs will also be made at this station.
  • 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.
 

10. 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.


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.