LONG ISLAND CITY — It's going to be another long year for 7 train riders in Queens.
The MTA is planning another slew of weekend service disruptions in 2014 in order to do needed maintenance and signal upgrades on the line, the agency announced Thursday. The upcoming shutdowns were first reported by PIX11.
Service in Long Island City, between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza, will be cut for 13 weekends between the end of February and July, including two weekends in May where the shutdown will extend as far as the 74th Street-Broadway station in Jackson Heights.
There will also be reduced service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza the weekends of June 6, June 20, June 27 and July 18, the MTA said.
The disruptions will last from 11:45 p.m. on Fridays to 5 a.m. on Mondays, though service will be restored early the morning of Sunday, June 8 for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Shuttle buses will operate along closed portions of the train line during suspensions, the MTA said.
A list of specific dates affected through the end of July can be found here. There are more disruptions and closures expected to take place from August through December, though those exact dates are tentative.
The shutdowns have once again angered residents and elected officials in Long Island City, where weekend 7 train service has been subject to a number of weekend disruptions because of a $550 million major capital improvement project to replace the line's old signaling system. That project won't be finished until 2017, the MTA said.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer are planning a rally in Hunters Point Friday morning to draw attention to how the disruptions negatively impact the neighborhood.
"They basically shut down Long Island City on the weekends," Gianaris said, adding that while he understands the signal repairs are necessary, he thinks the MTA can do a better job of accommodating Long Island City residents.
"The shuttle bus they use is completely inconvenient," he said.
Gianaris says he's previously pushed the MTA to provide shuttle service through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel so riders have the option of going directly into Manhattan, instead of having to take a bus to Queensboro Plaza in order to take another train line to Manhattan.
"The tunnel is quite literally right there," he said, saying he's open to discussions with the MTA about how to best arrange such a service. "We’ll talk about options and what might be preferable, but at a minimum, get people across the river."
The MTA did not respond to a request for comment on his suggestion.
In a statement, the agency said the service disruptions planned for 2014 are necessary not only for the signal system upgrades — which it says will bring more reliable train service and things like countdown clocks to the 7 line — but for other projects, including reconstruction of the Steinway Tube under the East River.
The service disruptions between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza are needed so the MTA can replace elevated track panels "that have neared or exceeded their useful lifespan," and pose a safety risk, according to a statement.
"We have made every effort to schedule these projects simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods," MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco said in a statement, adding that the projects are not eligible to be done under MTA's Fast Track program because they're too involved.
"Work of this scope on the 7 Line cannot be done overnight and requires more than 48 hours of continuous access to the tube and tracks," she said in a statement.