Three months before the 15-month shutdown of the Canarsie Tube between Brooklyn and Manhattan was set to begin, Governor Andrew Cuomo played “hero” once again and announced that he has a new plan to fix the crumbling tunnel.
After a midnight tour last month with the governor’s handpicked team of engineering experts, the MTA has accepted a new design that uses technology never employed before in the United States.
Rather than a full shutdown, the L train will operate normally. The work will be done on nights and weekends, which already have slow service. The MTA estimates the project will take 15 to 20 months to complete.
This is all good news for the 225,000 L train riders who commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan daily. They no longer have to take other means of transport, which would have struggled to bear the burden of new commuters on an already-strained transit system.
It means minimal disruptions for small businesses that rely on foot traffic from L train straphangers.
Of course, the real estate industry should be pleased as well, because the news stops the mass exodus from Williamsburg and Bushwick.
But Cuomo’s eleventh hour “rescue” is an example of irresponsible governance.
The MTA and DOT spent years speaking to impacted communities, working on mitigation plans and laying the groundwork for the shutdown. Those efforts may be thrown out the window.
The governor instead dropped a bomb on MTA officials, riders and locals whose lives are all impacted by this decision. Residents moved. Shops closed.
Cuomo should have paid attention to the shutdown earlier, and informed officials that he was thinking of scraping the shutdown. Instead, he held it close to his chest, hoping to be seen as a savior.
That isn’t how a democratically elected leader should operate. But in Cuomo’s New York, this is how we live.