NEW YORK CITY — The L train will shut down between Bedford Avenue and 8th Avenue for 18 months starting in 2019, MTA officials said.
Officials decided to completely halt subway service between Manhattan and Brooklyn — rather than a partial shutdown that would have lasted three years — because it would allow them to move faster with repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel that carries the L train under the East River, the MTA said.
MTA officials were expected to provide further details about the shut down at a Monday meeting.
“Throughout our extensive outreach process and review, it became clear that the 18-month closure was the best construction option and offered the least amount of pain to customers for the shortest period of time,” said New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim.
"It gives us more control over the work site and allows us to offer contractor incentives to finish the work as fast as possible," Hakim added.
Straphangers got a taste of the shutdown on Monday morning, when a police investigation of a suspicious package at First Avenue caused trains to stop running between Bedford Avenue and Third Avenue for nearly an hour, according to Maris Baldeo, an MTA spokeswoman.
Service resumed at about 10:04 a.m. with residual delays, Baldeo said.
Hurricane Sandy badly damaged the Canarsie Tunnel and its tracks, signals, switches, power cables and other pieces of infrastructure, according to the MTA.
During the shut down, crews will install electrical equipment for more power during rush hours and replace stairs and elevators to the Bedford Avenue and the First Avenue stations, the MTA said.
The L train will continue to run throughout Brooklyn during the shutdown, which many had been worried about.
MTA officials are still finalizing alternative commutes to compensate for the 2019 shutdown, they said.
Still, riders were already bracing Monday morning for the commute problems the full shut down will likely cause.
"I think there might be some positive effects on the weekend, but on weekdays, it's going to be miserable for anyone who has to get above 14th Street in Manhattan, said Judson Harmon, who lives in Williamsburg.
Some riders have already started planning their alternate commutes, but worry about the crowding that will likely occur.
"During rush hour, they have to be able to handle that volume, otherwise it's just going to fall to pieces," said Damian Haase, 44, who plans on taking the J train from Bushwick to his job downtown.
Others worry that the shutdown will spark a flight from the now-thriving Williamsburg, which has already seen some significant condo price drops.
"If they shut that down for 18 months, most of the people, they're gonna leave. This neighborhood is booming," said Manuel Rodriguez, 70.