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  • The Canarsie Tunnel

  • About the L Line

    Over the last decade, the L Subway Line line has experienced tremendous growth – it is now one of the busiest subway lines by customers in MTA New York City Transit’s system.

    Since 1990, ridership on the L Subway Line line has more than tripled; it has quintupled at the Bedford Av Station alone. Now, each weekday, a total of 400,000 people use the L Subway Line:

    • 225,000 use the L Subway Line to travel through the tunnel under the East River, officially called the “Canarsie Tunnel,” between Manhattan and Brooklyn
    • 50,000 use the L Subway Line solely in Manhattan
    • 125,000 travel solely in Brooklyn

    For context, this means:

    • If the L Subway Line were its own transit system, it would rank 11th among all North American rail systems
    • During AM peak times, the L Subway Line has nearly as many customers as there are passengers in private vehicles using all six bridges and tunnels going across the East River into Manhattan
    • For the 50,000 people who use the L Subway Line just in Manhattan on weekdays, this is greater than the daily number of customers on the busiest New York City bus route

    The Canarsie Tunnel

    To make the trip between Manhattan and Brooklyn, L trains travel through the Canarsie Tunnel. During the AM peak hour, 40 trains go through the tunnel per hour, or 20 trains in each direction.

    • The tunnel was opened in 1924 to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan
    • It is 7,110 feet long – just over 1.3 miles – made of cast iron with a concrete liner
    • The tunnel has two tubes, each carrying one track and containing the signal and communications systems needed to run the L train
    Canarsie Tunnel cross section


    In 2012, Superstorm Sandy flooded the tunnel with seven million gallons of salt water—enough to fill nearly 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Service was restored just 10 days after the storm by draining the tunnel, but because salt water is corrosive, the tunnel’s core infrastructure was damaged.

    • The most devastating damage occurred in the duct banks, which are concrete structures that protect the miles of cables and circuits necessary for the communication, power and safety of the trains
    • The salt water caused damage to the tube structure, signal and other electrical equipment
    • It also accelerated the deterioration of track and track ties

    The tubes are currently safe and we continue to monitor conditions closely, but the damage requires a full reconstruction of the tubes.

  • What's Happening to   Service?

  • During the reconstructing of the tunnel:

    • The L Subway Line tunnel will close for 15 months, starting in April 2019
    • There will be no L Subway Line service between 8th Av in Manhattan and Bedford Av in Brooklyn during that 15 months
    • However, the L Subway Line will still run in Brooklyn, between Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway and Bedford Av. Bedford Av Station will remain open


    Working with our partners at the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), we have developed a plan for new, temporary transportation options to get customers around during the L tunnel closure. The plan’s options have capacity to accommodate 100 percent of current L Subway Line customers—79% on subway, 17% on bus and 4% on ferry—using data from the peak AM hour.

    The plan was developed using transit demand data during the highest demand times and street condition analyses.

    See Map

    Increased Subway Service

    Approximately 79% of diverted riders will use other subway lines to travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan during the AM peak hour. Our solutions include:

    • Additional service on the combined J subway Z subway and M subway over the Williamsburg Bridge, details include:
      • J subway and Z subway will make all stops between Broadway Junction and Marcy Av
      • Slight reduction in J subway and Z subway during AM and PM peak hours, but increase in J subway during rush periods as a whole and during off-peak periods
    • Additional service and lengthened trains on the G subway
    • Additional service on the 7 subway
    • Additional service on the M subway from Queens Blvd, facilitating greater transfers to/from the G subway at Court Sq
    • Lengthened trains on the C subway
    • Weekends and overnights, M subway will run from Middle Village-Metropolitan Av to 96 St/2 Av
    • Additional off-peak service on the A subway , E subway , F subway , G subway , J subway , M subway and 7 subway lines

    Free out-of-system MetroCard transfers between:

    • Livonia Av L Subway Line and Junius St 3,
    • Broadway G subway and J subway M subway Z subway Hewes St and Lorimer St,
    • 21 St G subway and Hunters Point Av 7 subway


    More Bus Service on Existing Routes, Additional Five Bus Routes—And the Right Roadway Configurations and Enforcement Policies to Make It Work

    During the AM peak hour, data shows that approximately 17% of L subway customers are best accommodated by using buses to travel across the East River.

    We will add about 200 buses as part of the project, and electric buses will be part of this service. Fifteen articulated electric buses will operate on the M14 SBS starting in Q4 2019.

    Our solutions include:

    Between Brooklyn and Manhattan: Bus service to get customers across the East River with limited stops and connections to subway service—using an MTA SBS bus fare system—with all routes making a stop at Delancey St/Essex St Station

    • L1: Grand St L subway – Delancey St/ Essex St F subway J subway M subway Z subway – 1 Av/14 St
    • L2: Grand St L subway – Delancey St/ Essex St F subway J subway M subway – Spring St 6 subway / Prince St R subway W subway / Broadway-Lafayette St B subway D subway F subway M subway / Bleecker St 6 subway
    • L3:  N. Williamsburg – S. Williamsburg – Delancey St/ Essex St F subway J subway M subway Z subway – Spring St 6 subway / Prince St R subway W subway / Broadway-Lafayette St B subway D subway F subway M subway / Bleecker St 6 subway
    • L4: N. Williamsburg – S. Williamsburg – Delancey St/ Essex St F subway J subway M subway Z subway – 1 Av/14 St

    Across 14th St

    • New, high-frequency M14 SBS will operate across 14th Street connecting to ferry service at Stuyvesant Cove
    • M14 SBS overlaid on top of M14A & M14D
    • SBS fare system on M14 SBS; M14A&D retain on-board traditional fare collection
    • M14 SBS will utilize articulated buses

    Additional options for Brooklyn L subway customers: Bus service to connect customers with other subway routes

    • L5: Canarsie – Crown Heights/Utica Av 3 subway 4 subway during rush hours


    Williamsburg Bridge: HOV-3

    Williamsburg Bridge will be HOV3+: The Williamsburg Bridge will serve as the major connection for the L1, L2, L3 and L4 buses. To move the buses efficiently over the bridge, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV-3) restrictions will be enforced from 5 AM to 10 PM daily.

    • HOV has proven to be a successful traffic management strategy—it was used after 9/11, the 2005 subway strike and the immediate aftermath to Superstorm Sandy
    • HOV-3+ will help maintain consistent bus speeds across the East River and to prevent an outsized shift of transit riders to for-hire vehicles that would lead to massive congestion
    • NYC DOT will continue to analyze the effects of the Williamsburg Bridge restrictions on other East River crossings

    Bus-only lanes will be created: Temporary street treatments will be put in place to create bus-only lanes, focusing on streets leading up to and exiting the Williamsburg Bridge. These include on Delancey St, Allen St, and Kenmare St in Manhattan.

    Grand Street in Brooklyn will be reconfigured: Temporary street treatments will be installed to create westbound bus-only lanes, and vehicle traffic will be restricted to local access only, meaning vehicles will be permitted to drive on Grand St for one block only before turning off at the next available street.

    14th Street will be reconfigured: 14th St is a major convergence point for mass transit: 16 subway lines including the L, and the M14A/D bus service, already carrying 33,000 daily passengers. run through there. When the L service is suspended, we are projecting that this corridor will need to serve more than of 84,000 customers via bus each day, making the corridor one of the busiest bus corridors per mile in the world.

    In evaluating solutions, NYC DOT is balancing several factors: the increased pedestrian activity and safety concerns, protected bikeways in the larger corridor, commercial loading needs to support businesses, and the effects of temporarily displaced traffic as a result of street design changes.

    The changes on 14th Street will include:

    • The core of 14th Street (3rd to Ninth Avenues eastbound and 3rd to 8th Avenues westbound) will serve as an exclusive “busway” with restrictions on most private vehicles between 5 AM and 10 PM daily
    • Bus lanes will be added past both sides of the busway as well.
    • An upgraded Select Bus Service (SBS) treatment on 14th Street will bring temporary bus bulbs, bus lanes and expanded sidewalks to the corridor

    Temporary Ferry Service

    Based on customer trends, MTA NYCT evaluated and has secured a temporary ferry during the L tunnel closure. Projections show that 4% of current L customers could benefit from the ferry.

    The MTA is currently working with New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to implement this new temporary ferry route connecting North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove on East 20th St in Manhattan, which will be the terminus of the M14 SBS and is the current terminal of the M23 SBS.

    Fares for service will be the same fare for a trip on a bus or subway, and will be integrated with free transfers at M14 SBS and M23 SBS. Details include:

    • Weekdays/Sunday: 6 AM – midnight
    • Friday/Saturday: 6 AM – 2 AM
    • Overnight service will be provided by buses between Brooklyn and Manhattan
    • In rush hours, there will be eight ferry departures per hour in each direction, carrying up to 1,920 passengers per hour per direction
    • During the midday and evenings, ferries will operate every 10 minutes in each direction

    Permanently Improving the Stations

    Reopened street entrances and additional turnstiles will accommodate greater pedestrian volumes at key stations. Our solutions include:

    More capacity at existing stations:

    • Marcy Av J subway M subway Z subway subway (widen street stairs, additional turnstile capacity)
    • Lorimer St J subway M subway Z subway subway (additional turnstile capacity)
    • Broadway Junction (additional stairs at J subway Z subway subway platforms to upper mezzanine that connects to L)
    • Court Sq (additional stairs at G subway platform, improved capacity at two control areas)
    • Nassau St G subway (additional turnstile capacity)
    • Metropolitan Av – Lorimer St (G subway L subway new platform to mezzanine stair, improvements to two control areas)
    • Union Square (additional turnstile capacity)

    Reopened station entrances at:

    • Flushing Av J subway M subway Z subway subway at Fayette Street (completed July 2017)
    • Metropolitan Av G subway at Union Av and Hope St and at Union Av and Powers St
    • Hewes St J subway M subway Z subway subway

    More Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure

    In addition to accommodating all L subway customers on public transportation, NYC DOT has projected that approximately 2% of current L subway customers may switch to bicycling, and they are making improvements to the bike lane network to facilitate this growth. Customers are also projected to consider walking more as a means of transportation, leading to NYC DOT’s plans for new and updated pedestrian infrastructure.

    Solutions include:

    • NYC DOT will work with Motivate on its Citi Bike capacity, taking steps including increased bike inventories and valet services to help move riders
    • Sidewalks on 14th Street will be widened to accommodate greater pedestrian volumes

    New pedestrian-only space along Union Square West from 14th to 15th Streets and 16th to 17th Streets will be added

    • 12th and13th St bikeway: NYC DOT will add protected crosstown bike lanes to 12th and 13th Streets providing connection to a new bike parking hub on University Place from 13th to 14th Streets
    • Improved cycling connections to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing and East River Greenway will be added
    • New protected bike link on Delancey Street between Allen Street and the Williamsburg Bridge will be created

    NYC DOT will also add new crosswalks, bike parking and pedestrian space to the Myrtle and Broadway corridors near the J M Z subway lines. With G train ridership expected to grow dramatically, DOT will improve 

  • Rebuilding & Improvements

  • Worksite Commitment

    Canarsie Tunnel Reconstruction Process

    The work will be extensive: Demolition and reconstruction of approximately 60,000 linear feet of duct banks, 14,400 linear feet of track and track bed, 270,000 linear feet of cable ducts and associated cables, repair of 7,000 linear feet of concrete lining, and the installation of tunnel lighting and fire systems. The tunnel will be also be protected from future storms by incorporating resiliency measures such as the construction of durable cables and ducts and the installation of a new discharge line.


    The wide scope of the rehabilitation project does not only involve the tunnel. We are also working to increase capacity along the L subway line after normal service is restored, by improving access to multiple stations, as well as building three new substations that will provide the power for us to run more L trains.


    Construction of a new power substation on Avenue B and other infrastructure upgrades and improvements will address power requirements that, combined with the existing Computer-Based Train Control (CBTC) signal system, will allow for a 10% increase in the number of L Subway Line trains we can run in peak hours.


    Taking advantage of the L tunnel closure, Bedford Av station in Brooklyn and Av station in Manhattan will undergo significant construction to provide ADA accessibility and capacity upgrades. Several other stations will be upgraded or revitalized.

    1 Av Station Improvements in Manhattan (Avenue A):

    Building new station entrances on both sides of the 14th street

    Installing new elevators serving both platforms

    Installing new turnstiles and MetroCard vending machines

    Bedford Avenue Station Improvements in Brooklyn (Bedford Avenue Entrance):

    Adding two new street-level stairways

    Adding platform stair capacity

    Expanding the mezzanine

    Adding new elevators

    Adding turnstiles

    At the Driggs Avenue entrance:

    Adding two new street stairways

    Redesigning the mezzanine area and adding turnstiles

    Adding a new platform stairway

    Union Square

    Augment turnstile capacity

    Reconfigure and widen stairs between the Broadway line N Q R W and the L line to improve passenger circulation on the stairs and on the platform

    Add a new escalator from the L train platform to the station’s mezzanine

    6 Av

    • Two ADA elevators providing access to/from the L platform to/from upper mezzanines
    • More direct stair access to the L platform from the west side of 14th St
    • Increased platform stair capacity to transfer corridor to 14 St/7th Av 123

    Other Stations

    Upgrading all five L line stations in Manhattan with improvements such as refurbished stairways and new lighting and painting.

    Revitalizing four L line stations in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan—at Morgan Avenue, DeKalb Avenue, Halsey Street, Bushwick Avenue-Aberdeen Street, and 6th Avenue—by repairing or replacing wall tiles, columns, platform edges, and floors.

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