Home Superstorm Sandy The Bad News: A summer and fall with weekend G train outages

The Bad News: A summer and fall with weekend G train outages

by Benjamin Kabak
Contrast the new tie plates in the background with those damaged by Sandy's floodwaters in the G train's Greenpoint Tube. (Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

Contrast the new tie plates in the background with those damaged by Sandy’s floodwaters in the G train’s Greenpoint Tube. (Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

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.

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34 comments

D in Bushwick June 5, 2013 - 12:52 pm

What’s the point in renovating these tubes if another storm or hurricane hits NYC later this year or next year? It would seem the first thing the MTA should do beyond critical repairs is to prevent future tubes from being flooded so the infrastructure won’t have to be replaced all over again.
And what about the L Train tube? It’s roughing riding since the ties sat soaking in seawater for weeks.

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Kai B June 5, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Regarding the ride in the L-Train tunnel: Westbound is riding quite smooth since Memorial Day weekend. I’m guessing eastbound will happen during the next weekend shutdown.

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Spendmore Wastemore June 5, 2013 - 2:58 pm

12 weekends is less than 24 usable work time. Lots of lost time in setup, takedown, sloowwly moving work trains, re-routing, blocking and unblocking tracks. Sure it’s nice that MTA listens to community whining, but sometimes they need to do what needs to be done the way it needs to be done.

ff the weekend shutdowns; make it a full time shutdown for 2-3 weeks this summer, then as long as needed to do it once next year.

EVERY flooded tunnel that gets fixed needs to have flood resistant electronics, pumps and other non-moveable equipment. If the Feds don’t pay for the upcharge who cares, they’re not going to stuff MTA for doing something right. Look at the headline that would reap: “Feds Slap MTA for Being Smart, ‘We’d rather ruin more stuff next time so we can handle a bigger disaster’ explained an anonymous FEMA source” Whether or not anyone at FEMA says that, the Post will run it.

Do it once, do it right, don’t ask permission.

Do that and half the city would write checks to Lhota For Mayor, and bring Walder back to run the thing.

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Bolwerk June 5, 2013 - 4:23 pm

Writing a check to Lhota for Mayor is stupid and fruitless. Everyone knows the Republikan victor will be Christine Quinn.

Maybe if Lhota hung onto his job for a little while, he would have demonstrated some kind of aptitude that implies he would make a good mayor.

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Larry Littlefield June 5, 2013 - 1:11 pm

One word. Citibike. Get those bikes into LIC and Greenpoint, and riders would be able to hop off the G, ride over the Pulaski Bridge, and continue their trip.

I wrote about a scenario just like this when contemplating the deferred maintenance future of mass transit in the wake of Generation Greed. The entire subway system will probably not grind to a halt, but it would become increasingly unreliable until eventually part of it shuts down and money is scrougded for a fix.

Hence the importance of bicycles. If your subway line doesn’t work for months or years, you can ride to another one.

Sandy has taken that disutopian future, thought to be a decade away (following the unfunding or underfunding of the capital plan starting in 2015), and brought it into the present.

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Kai B June 5, 2013 - 2:58 pm

They are planned to be in place in Greenpoint and LIC soon. Part of Phase 1B (grey dots on the rollout map). I’m not sure if there are dates yet, but it should certainly be by next summer.

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Epson45 June 5, 2013 - 3:12 pm

Citibike… what a joke.

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Benjamin Kabak June 5, 2013 - 3:15 pm

Care to elaborate?

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Larry Littlefield June 5, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Guess not, but it probably goes something like this. What is something that I don’t want for me doing on my street?

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Bolwerk June 5, 2013 - 4:08 pm

I hope it expands and sees more users, and I’m sure it will help some people, but I’m not sure it’s anything approaching a panacea.

Epson45 June 5, 2013 - 5:56 pm

LIC and Greenpoint Citibike station…. ZERO.

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Larry Littlefield June 5, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Schedule for phase II. Would have had them by now, but Sandy destroyed the Citbikes and docking stations and they had to start with 6,000 bikes instead of 10,000.

So maybe the MTA can use some Sandy money to put the Citibikes in, on the grounds that they would be cheaper than a bus bridge.

Epson45 June 5, 2013 - 7:29 pm

MTA is not going to do that… at all.

al June 7, 2013 - 4:04 pm

No, but the NYC DOT might.

Epson45 June 8, 2013 - 12:19 pm

I dont see DOT doing it either.

Kai B June 5, 2013 - 3:02 pm

I’ve actually never seen Nassau St operate as a terminal other than (rarely) late nights weekdays. It should be rather interesting and it’s a good thing that the bused section becomes so short as a result, although the traffic on Manhattan Avenue can be brutal.

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Kai B June 5, 2013 - 3:04 pm

*Nassau Av (embarrassed… I live right around the corner)

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llqbtt June 5, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Hopefully, MTA will not also be doing the southern route portion of the work at the same time. Not that there are many, if any, through travelers, but let’s see: F at Church to Jay, cross over for A or C (if running) to Hoyt-S, up to a 20 min wait for G shuttle to B’ford-Nostrand, another G to Nassau Ave, go upstairs for shuttle bus to Court Sq.

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Alex June 5, 2013 - 4:55 pm

As a Park Slope resident, I definitely use the G to get to LIC. Not a trip I take a lot, but it’s very handy when I need it.

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Frank B June 5, 2013 - 10:21 pm

I used to go to Law School in Long Island City (Not for long, turned out to be a clown college) and strangely enough, a native New Yorker from Queens living in Park Slope, Brooklyn actually had to commute to Queens each day using the IND Crosstown Line.

Alright, maybe I didn’t have to use the G, but I loved to. I always got a seat on the G; for obvious reasons.

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Andrew June 5, 2013 - 10:45 pm

If you’re seriously trying to get from Church to Court Square, why not simply take the F to the E or 7? (And if it’s one of those weekends when the F is running via 53rd, you get a one-seat ride!)

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Alex June 5, 2013 - 4:32 pm

As I noted in a post on the R train blog, the bus really ought to extend all the way to Metropolitan Ave so people can make the connection to the L without having to catch the bus and then transfer to the G. Keep the G running to Nassau but throw these folks a bone. It can’t cost that much more to run the bus an extra two stops.

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Andrew June 5, 2013 - 10:59 pm

It’s one more stop, not two, but based on the overly simplistic assumption that the cost to run a bus from one stop to the next is constant, extending the bus line from Nassau to Metropolitan would increase the cost of the shuttle bus by 33%.

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Matthew June 5, 2013 - 11:01 pm

I hope they elevate the subway vents for the G line in the sidewalk 100 feet north of Newton creek, it shouldn’t be that hard or expensive to collar the vent and raise it up 5-6 feet. It is probably one of the primary sources of flooding in the tunnel at 40.740378,-73.955003.

Also, the MTA just started working on the 125th street viaduct steel replacement on the 1 line, they are currently measuring all the steel for the viaduct to fabricate the sections to replace the viaducts steel. They are doing the project in phases, which include replacing the bridges over the entrances to the tunnels. When it comes time to put the new sections in place, they will be shutting down the entire segment for several weekends.

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Chris C June 6, 2013 - 1:56 pm

By the looks of this that is going to totally block off the pavement there.

I can’t see anyone being happy about that – especially if such collaring is proposed to all the at-risk vents and those downtown in particular where half the pedestrian space would get eaten up.

That’s not to say covers shouldn’t be used when appropriate.

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Eric Brasure June 6, 2013 - 9:20 am

There must be something obvious I’m missing… but how does having a switch north of Nassau Av allow that station to used as a terminal?

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Chris June 6, 2013 - 10:25 am

Easy – northbound trains stop at Nassau, continue out of the station, switch to the southbound track, and reverse direction (or, alternately, reverse direction, then switch to the southbound track).

Similar thing was done for the Memorial Day weekend service change on the L. Service ended at Lorimer, but trains reversed direction on the switch between Lorimer and Bedford.

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Eric Brasure June 6, 2013 - 10:50 am

That’s what I was thinking, it just seems time-consuming. I wonder why they don’t use Greenpoint Av as the terminal.

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Epson45 June 6, 2013 - 11:35 am

North of Nassau receive lots of equipment damages.

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Andrew June 6, 2013 - 10:44 pm

Because the interlocking is immediately north of Nassau. The signal system probably wouldn’t allow a train that went all the way to Greenpoint to change directions. Even if it did, the turning capacity would be much lower.

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Tower18 June 6, 2013 - 10:29 am

Trains can empty passengers at Nassau on the Queens-bound track, as usual, and then switch to the Brooklyn-bound track, wrong rail for a few feet, then reverse back into Nassau at the Brooklyn-bound platform.

It’s a bit messy, but it should be fine on weekends with the G’s frequencies.

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Epson45 June 6, 2013 - 11:35 am

But not next summer when it is full shutdown mode.

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Kai B June 6, 2013 - 1:03 pm

That’ll be the real test for sure. But is this really any worse than Court Square’s “crawl through the storage track” maneuver?

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Andrew June 6, 2013 - 10:42 pm

How is it messy? It’s a standard relay move. They’re done all over the system. There’s already one at the other end of the G!

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