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Carpool Lane, Bus Routes, Ferries May Help During L Train Outage: Officials

By Gwynne Hogan | May 22, 2017 1:26pm
 The city is considering adding a carpool lane to the Williamsburg Bridge as part of alternatives during the L train shutdown.
The city is considering adding a carpool lane to the Williamsburg Bridge as part of alternatives during the L train shutdown.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

WILLIAMSBURG — Transportation authorities are mulling a carpool lane, three new bus routes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and a ferry route that would connect Williamsburg to East 20th Street in preparation for the shutdown of L train service between the boroughs in 2019, officials said.

The ideas were floated at a Friday meeting with city and state elected officials, the MTA and the city's Department of Transportation, the Daily News first reported.

The DOT is considering adding a High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane for cars with three passengers or more on the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as another lane just for buses and trucks, according to staffers at state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol's office who attended the Friday meeting.

Under the proposal, three new bus routes would travel over the bridge, according to Lentol's office. One route would connect the Bedford L train to the Bleecker Street 6 train stop and Broadway/Lafayette F and M stop.

The second route would run between the Grand Street L stop and the Bleecker Street 6 train station and Broadway/Lafayette F and M stops.

The final route would travel from the Grand Street station to Manhattan's 14th Street along First and Second Avenues, according to Lentol's office.

All those routes would make stops at the Delancey Street F/J/M/Z stop before reaching their final destinations.

Finally, a new ferry route between North Sixth Street in Williamsburg and East 20th Street in Manhattan could shuttle 1,200 commuters an hour across the East River — about the same number of people as one L train, according to Lentol's office. The ferry fare would include a free transfer to Select Bus Service buses and subways on the Manhattan side, and it would run between 6 a.m. and midnight on weekdays and until 2 a.m. on weekends. 


The L train is slated to shut down between the Bedford Avenue stop and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan for 15 months starting in April 2019, three months shorter than the original timeline pitched by the MTA.

Around 225,000 daily commuters who use the Canarise Tunnel to commute between Manhattan and Brooklyn will have to find another way of getting around during those 15 months.

The MTA will try to divert most straphangers to the G, J, M and Z lines, while a smaller number — around 30 percent of riders — will take buses, ferries, Citi Bikes or ride shares to and from Manhattan. 

While planning alternate service is still in its preliminary phases, the MTA has already pre-ordered a new fleet of 200 diesel buses in time for the shutdown, irking environmentalists who hoped electric buses would be used during that time.

The DOT is also planning to create better bike lanes leading to the Williamsburg Bridge.

MTA officials expect to release a full alternate service plan later this year that will then be brought to the public for discussion. The goal is to have a finalized plan by the end of the year so the agency can begin implementation in 2018.

The Canarsie Tunnel, which runs under the East River along the L line, flooded during Hurricane Sandy and the MTA needs to make extensive repairs to the tunnel and tracks during the shutdown.

The MTA and the DOT did not immediately return requests for comment on the meeting.