Between the Lines

Can the E train replace the L? Jim Venturi explains how to keep Brooklyn connected

East Newsletter Transportation
(Courtesy MTA)
(Courtesy MTA)

Fresh from devising a plan make re-imaging Penn Station and regional rail, Jim Venturi and his team at ReThink Studio are snapping at the MTA’s heels once again.

As all subway-faring New Yorkers will know by now, the L-train is due to shut down in 2019 for much needed repairs on the Canarsie tunnels that connect Manhattan to Williamsburg. The MTA is still figuring out how to compensate for the shutdown, though their plan may include increased subway, ferry, or bus services.

The stakes are high for daily commuters and the neighborhood’s overall growth: In May, the New York Times reported that Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president Carlo A. Scissura said businesses were panicking. Developers too were worried. “You may see people who say: ‘It’s not worth it to rent an apartment along this corridor. I’m just going to do something else,’” Scissura said. “This is an area where a Saturday or a Friday night is like prime-time rush hour on a Monday morning commute.”

So what does Venturi’s Rethink Studio propose?

MTA's 18 month L train closure plan. (Courtesy MTA)

MTA’s 18 month L train closure plan. (Courtesy MTA)

“Right now with the L train outage there are only bad choices available” Venturi told The Architect’s Newspaper. “Shuttle buses and ferries are not nearly as convenient as sub­way ser­vice, and redi­rect­ing pas­sen­gers onto exist­ing nearby sub­way lines will lead to fur­ther over-crowd­ing,” according to ReThinkStudio.

Consequently, his team proposes running the E train through its current end-stop at the World Trade Center and into Brooklyn. Taking the A/C line, the service would continue northbound on the G line, terminating at Court Square in Queens.

MTA's three year L train closure plan. (Courtesy MTA)

MTA’s three year L train closure plan. (Courtesy MTA)

Currently, the G train only uses four cars on its service, which runs every eight minutes. The plan, Venturi argues, will help the transportation network handle the L trains daily passenger load: Some 400,000 riders every weekday. Venturi also hopes that running the E alongside will add some resiliency to the network, providing room for growth for redundancy for fallback plans.

Jim Venturi L Train Shutdown Alternative

Jim Venturi’s alternative plan for 18 month L train closure. (Courtesy ReThink Studio)

For those on the G, ReThink Studio’s proposal would make traveling into Manhattan a one-seat journey. Meanwhile, L train pas­sen­gers will have a two-seat ride into Manhattan by transferring at Lorimer Street. In this scenario, the E would break away from the A and C lines at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street, a feat made possible by adding a new rail switch, as illustrated by the studio.

Jim Venturi L Train Shutdown Alternative

Hoyt-Schermerhorn Station dia­gram with the instal­la­tion of two new #6 track switches, allow­ing for E train ser­vice to extend to Brooklyn via the G tracks. (Courtesy ReThink Studio)

“This is a good idea regardless of the L train shutdown,” Venturi said. He argues that the added “connectivity and redundancy is what the system needs.” Indeed, such resiliency and redundancy in underground transit networks can be found in both Berlin and London, where many lines run the same route at numerous instances.




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