Report: R train’s Montague St. Tunnel could reopen early

By · Published in 2014

The Montague St. Tunnel, shown here in April, may reopen a few weeks sooner than expected. (Photo via Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

When it comes to construction work, “early” is not a concept many people associated with the MTA. From staircase replacements and escalator repairs to the work on the Culver Viaduct to the 7 line or East Side Access, rarely is anything high profile finished early. We’re lucky, in fact, if something wraps on time.

When it comes to post-crisis which for which someone else is paying (and that is, more often than not, managed in-house), the MTA seems to shift into gear. The five-week shutdown to the G train’s Greenpoint Tubes wrapped on time over Labor Day weekend, and now reports are circulating that the Sandy recovery work on the R train’s Montague St. Tunnel could finish early.

Although various reports earlier this spring noted work was proceeding quickly, The Brooklyn Paper broke the latest story earlier this week:

The tunnel that carries the R train between Brooklyn and Manhattan — which has been closed for more than a year — may reopen ahead of schedule, according to insiders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A staffer working to restore the Montague Street Tunnel said the tube, which was closed in August 2013 for post-Hurricane Sandy repairs, will likely be up and running before October, weeks ahead of its scheduled reopening.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the worker said the Authority has already begun sending track geometry cars — automated track-inspection vehicles loaded with high-tech gizmos — through the tunnel to make sure new construction is up to snuff, which is one of the final steps before returning a route to service.

The MTA denied an early opening to the Brooklyn Paper, but a spokesman was more forthcoming to the Daily News. The project, Adam Lisberg said, could “meet or beat the October deadline.” Meanwhile, I’ve spoken to some MTA sources who say the tunnel opening early isn’t a matter of if but when. If politicians are interested in a photo opp ceremony, the reopening could be delayed a few days, but by some accounts, Montague St. is just about ready for revenue service trains.

Now, again, it shouldn’t be newsworthy that the MTA is opening something two or three weeks early or even on time, but because of the way construction projects are handled, it is. We can applaud the reopening of tunnels shut due to damage from Sandy, but we should eye skeptically other work that can’t be completed on time. What takes weeks to fix an escalator? What takes over a year to wrap up new build work? Why are emergency repairs so much quicker? I can’t answer those questions, but someone — or multiple someones — should be looking into it before that ribbon-cutting for the Montague tube, whenever that may be.

Categories : Superstorm Sandy

21 Responses to “Report: R train’s Montague St. Tunnel could reopen early”

  1. Abba says:

    Someone on transit forums said this Sunday.Time is running out for that…

  2. John-2 says:

    It may also come down not just to emergency repairs, but to priority emergency repairs that get handled the way everyone thinks all repairs should be handled. The tunnel work on Montague and the Greenpoint will probably be followed by repairs to the other tunnels that come in on schedule, because there’s a real price to pay in not getting those done on time.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t be shocked if the repair work on lower South Ferry ends up about like your average escalator repair job. It would be great to platform all 10 cars on the 1 train, but the line is running and passengers who could walk out of the ferry terminal and access the 1 before Sandy hit can do that today, so of the major hurricane repair projects, it’s probably dead last on the things-to-do list.

  3. I walk my dog along the Promenade every morning, around 7ish. I often look down at the Montague Tube Ventilation Building that the workers use to gain access to the tunnel.

    Except for a holidays, they are working 24 * 7. I am usually there to catch the shift change.

    So as you said, Ben – when it’s on somebody else’s dime – they know how to get it done.

    I’d also suspect, that since they were stripping everything down to the tunnel lining – there wasn’t a chance for them to run into ‘additional’ work. They were already planning to do everything.

    • Nathanael says:

      “I’d also suspect, that since they were stripping everything down to the tunnel lining – there wasn’t a chance for them to run into ‘additional’ work. They were already planning to do everything.”

      That may be a clue as to how to get things done faster at the MTA. Blitz approach…

  4. Chris C says:

    Never mind delaying the re-opening so some politicians can get their photo taken and make long speeches.

    Just restart the service. The pols can have their photo op some other time.

    • Simon says:

      Bingo. Cuomo will want to make the announcement so he can take credit and look good after the shellacking he got on Tuesday. But don’t be fooled–he’ll only be delaying the re-opening for his press conference.

  5. Kai B says:

    Another case study, 4th Avenue / 9th Street. Remember the opening of an additional entrance over two years ago?

    Until last week I hadn’t noticed a single sign of progress. Now it seems at least the internal roof of the arch has been restored.

  6. Elvis Delgado says:

    Given that the published info says (and has always said) that the Montague Street Tunnel will be closed “until October 2014”, there are really only 19 days left anyway. I mean how early could it really be? This is basically an on-time project, and perhaps that is worth noting in and of itself, but let’s not pretend this is some miraculous feat of finishing ahead of schedule.

  7. Chris says:

    This is great news, but I wish the MTA EVER made any attempt to complete any other project early.

    It’s incredible, really. There’s a staircase at 57th-7th that’s been closed for construction since mid-June. The end date on the construction sign has been altered twice – and they still missed it when they pushed it back by an entire month to the end of August.

    I pass by every day and didn’t see a single piece of equipment move for a month. Now it’s over two weeks past the most recent promised completion date (and eight weeks past the first completion date) and I saw progress for the first time today.

    It’s also worth noting this is the second time in less than two years that this staircase has been closed. So it’s entirely possible they did shoddy work the first time (we’ll see if the adjacent staircase is next to close for three months).

    And who will be held accountable for this? Absolutely no one, I’m sure.

  8. D in Bushwick says:

    Next you’ll tell us the MTA rediscovered the formula for soap and water!

  9. Bob Sklar says:

    Yesterday, when leaving work at MetroTech about 4:15 pm, I passed by the Jay St-Metrotech (R) entrance at Lawrence & Willoughby Sts. The original metal plates were showing on the entrances. The plates showing the (R) to Court St. or Bay Ridge had already been removed.

    • Lamont says:

      Yeah, the original plates on the platforms, (showing R to Bay Ridge & Late Night N via Whitehall St) were displayed on its Manhattan stations as well today, but the R to Whitehall signs were still present on Queens platforms, as I saw today.

    • Epson45 says:

      they have all change signs.

  10. Kriston Lewis says:

    The MTA’s TripPlanner says service will resume at 11:30pm Saturday. I’d imagine a Friday announcement.

  11. Phantom says:

    This is wonderful news for us Bay Ridge / Sunset Park / Brooklyn Heights etc types.


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