The big news of the day concerned the looming 12-14 month shutdown of the R train’s Montague Tube beginning this August, but the looming G train work, while less extensive, may be more painful for riders. For 12 weekends this summer and fall, the MTA will shut G service from Nassau Ave. to Queens. Then, during the summer of 2014, for five weeks, the MTA will have to close the Greenpoint Tube entirely.
“Closing these two subway tubes is a difficult but necessary step to restore them to the condition they were in before Sandy struck,” MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer said of the R and G train closures. “The temporary repairs that returned these tubes to operation after Sandy are not enough to provide reliable service. This is unfortunately the reality of recovery from Sandy: the damage is insidious and continuing, and repairing it will take billions of dollars over several years. We recognize that these closures will be an inconvenience for many of our customers, and we will do our best to provide them with alternatives. But there is no alternative to doing this work now.”
The Greenpoint Tube will be out of commission for 53 hours straight during the following weekends this year: July 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; August 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; September 7-8, 28-29; October 5-6; December 7-8, and 14-15. The exact dates for the 2014 closure have not been determined yet.
Shutting the Greenpoint Tube will allow the MTA to repair the damaged systems during periods of lighter ridership, but the impact will still be felt by Greenpointers and Long Island City residents. According to the MTA’s statistics, Greenpoint Ave., 21st St., and Court Square affect around 57,000 total weekend riders — though most of those are using other lines at Court Sq. Greenpoint Ave. and 21st St. see a combined weekend ridership of slightly under 11,000. (The Montague Tube outage, on the other hand, will impact 65,000 daily R train riders and thousands of others on lines that will become increasingly more crowded.)
The MTA dodged a bullet when it avoided damage to movable parts and its rolling stock, but the tunnels absorbed the floodwaters. The Greenpoint and Montague Tubes were covered wall to ceiling, and now the repairs are coming into view. “Even after we restored service through the tubes again, signal and other component failures rose dramatically,” Thomas F. Prendergast, MTA Interim Executive Director, said. “The chief area of concern is the tubes’ mechanical and electrical systems that were subjected to salt water accelerating the deterioration of these vital systems and reducing their reliability over time.”
For views of the damage in the tunnels, check out this photoset. After the jump, a glimpse at the G train map during these Sandy-related outages.