WILLIAMSBURG — Nearly a month since news leaked that L train service would have to shut down between Manhattan and Brooklyn, MTA officials finally sat down Friday with local politicians who serve areas along the L line, to begin the process of planning for the train's closure.
The MTA committed to holding regular meetings with commuters, businesses and other stakeholders much earlier than they were originally planning, according politicians at the Friday meeting.
There has been no timetable set up for those meetings.
"We pressed hard to get [a date] and did not walk away with that... if we get to the end of March without a meeting, that will be something unexpected," said Minna Elias, a spokeswoman for U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office. Maloney's district straddles the East River on either side of the Canarsie Tube.
"We do think it will happen within weeks rather than months," Elias said.
MTA officials, who included MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast and MTA New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim told politicians that the next time they came to a public forum they promised to have more specifics about the L train shutdown, having learned from earlier missteps where an MTA rep was booted from a town hall meeting on Jan. 28, when he wouldn't answer anyone's questions.
"Sending someone just to listen as they did at the Brooklyn Bowl is not satisfying for anybody," Elias said. "The next time they come out, it will be with people who are empowered to respond."
The MTA says it needs to shut down L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn so it can repair the Canarsie Tube that was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA said.
The repairs will take around 18 months if they do a full shutdown and about three years if the MTA closes one tunnel at a time, Ortiz said, though the agency is still weighing other options.
The L train Coalition, a group of business owners, community groups and neighborhood activists, is holding its second public meeting on Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Swinging Sixties Senior Center (211 Ainslie Street).
MTA representatives did not commit to attend that meeting.