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:
September - November 2018: Installation and construction of streetscape treatments begin along 14th Street, 13th Street, and other affected areas
October 2018 - March 2019: Select weekend and overnight closures of the L train will occur to allow for preparatory construction and maintenance
Fall 2018 - March 2019: Refinement of mitigation plans and additional stakeholder and community engagement will take place
January 2019: MTA begins initial operation of the new M14 Select Bus Service ("SBS") route
March 2019: Busway restrictions begin along 14th Street
April 2019: L train closure begins
July 2020: Estimated completion of Canarsie Tunnel repairs and resumption of L train service
2. What work is underway CURRENTLY to prepare for the L train closure?
The DOT and MTA have begun work on 14th Street and several adjacent areas to prepare the district the L train closure in April 2019. This work will continue until early November 2018. Key changes taking place on 14th Street during this period include:
Temporarily widen sidewalks to prevent crowding and shorten pedestrian crossing distances
Install Select Bus Service fare machines
Mill and pave 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues
Install bus priority lane markings and signage
Key changes on 13th and 12th Streets to support the installation of new protected bike lanes include:
Install curbside protected bike lanes on the north curb 12th Street from 7th Ave. to Avenue C,and the south curb of 13th Street from Greenwich Avenue to Avenue B, separated from traffic with a painted buffer and flexible delineators
Install slow turning treatments at select intersection
The MTA and DOT will also continue community outreach during Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 to provide updates on the mitigation plans. The DOT will conduct outreach to residents and businesses along 14th Street during this time regarding local access on 14th Street during the L train closure. Please see the materials in the Resources + Presentations section above for additional details on work that is taking place along 14th, 13th, and 12th Streets in fall 2018.
3. 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
October 6th - 7th
October 13th - 14th
October 20th - 21st
October 27th - 28th
November 10th - 11th
4. What changes are planned for 14th Street’s transportation and streetscape?
14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues eastbound, and 3rd and 8th Avenues westbound will be converted into a busway. The busway will have three lanes – one lane that will serve as a bus stop and two lanes for bus and local delivery travel. The busway will be in effect from 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
The MTA will also 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. During peak times, the MTA projects that nearly 60 M14 SBS and local buses will run per hour.
MTA and NYCDOT estimate a 50% increase in pedestrian volume around Union Square and at 14th Street and 6th Avenue. 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
5. When will the M14 SBS begin operating AND WHAT ARE THE BUSWAY HOURS?
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. 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. Operating hours for the 14th Street busway will be 5 AM to 10 PM seven days a week. Enforcement of the busway and relevant restrictions will begin in March 2019.
6. Who will be able to access 14th street during busway hours?
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. Through trucks will not be allowed on 14th Street during the peak hour period.
The 14th Street busway restrictions will be enforced by bus lane cameras and NYPD presence. DOT will monitor traffic conditions along 14th Street and in the surrounding traffic network throughout the closure period.
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 existing Citi Bike kiosk on University Place between 13th and 14th Street will potentially be expanded.
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:
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.
9.HOW will existing BroOklyn L train riders get to UnIOn SQUARE during the shutdown?
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.
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. Where can I find the information that was presented at the open houses and community board meetings?
Throughout 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.
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.