L train shutdown: Residents worry not enough is being done to help them

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NEW YORK — It's a little over a year away but the impending L train shutdown already has subway riders and surrounding communities worried.

"It's going to cause a lot of havoc for all New Yorkers unless the City musters an appropriate response," Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives said Wednesday.

The advocacy group spoke outside a community meeting at the 14th Street Y. It was the MTA's second meeting to explain the L train shutdown and hear from New Yorkers.

"My objective is to get it right for the majority," NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. "We want this plan to work and we want it to work both sides of the bridge."

A lot of attention has been paid to subway riders going between Brooklyn and Manhattan. But when the Canarsie Tunnel closes for post Superstorm Sandy repairs in April, 2019, a large chunk of Manhattan will be affected as well.

The L Train will be shuttered from Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn to 8th Avenue in Manhattan. 14th Street will bear the brunt of New Yorkers trying to get across town.

"The side streets will be overburdened. They are not meant to be thru streets," Manhattan resident Marguerite Martin said.

The MTA and DOT have a preliminary plan to close off a majority of 14th Street to cars during rush hour. Only buses would be allowed.

"Rush hour, at this moment, not yet fully defined. I think that's part of the community engagement process here is to talk about what those hours look like," DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

Transportation advocates said that's not good enough. They want only buses on 14th Street 24 hours a day, river to river.

"We need a replacement shuttle bus that is as seamless, as efficient and subway-like, as we have never seen before," Riders Alliance's Danny Pearlstein said.

Residents along 14th Street said they were worried about access to their homes and businesses.

"I am more concerned about the retail, which is already struggling because of the high rents in the area," resident Fran Rotello told PIX11 News. "How are they are going to get deliveries. What's going to happen to the parking garages?"

The MTA has planned two more informational meetings in February. The first is on February 8 at the Williamsburg Community Center at 5 p.m. The next will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe on West 14th Street on February 14.