More 14th St. - Canarsie News

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 1:16 PM
We've reached a milestone in the L Project: all of the tunnel rehabilitation work in the first tube (Manhattan-bound) is done.

This also means that we are ahead of schedule: we expect the tunnel rehabilitation part of the project to be completed in April 2020—12 months since rehabilitation began and 3 months ahead of the original 15- to 18-month projection. (All of the other work like elevators and substations is also on schedule, planned for a fall 2020 completion.)

Starting today, we're getting to work in the second tube (Brooklyn-bound). Use the information below to continue being the best educated L train customer around:

Travel tips

Look for our station signs and use these tips if you’re using the L on nights and weekends, starting tonight:

At 1 Av and 3 Av Stations: Use the stairs on the north side of the street, instead of the south side. We'll have extra staff out this week to help direct you.

At Bedford Av Station: Same platform, different track. Trains will be running on the other track, in both directions.

At Metropolitan Av-Lorimer St Station: After ~9:45 p, once you get into the mezzanine, you'll be directed to use the Manhattan-bound platform. (Remember that nights this week, Lorimer St is the last stop on Brooklyn-bound trains as we make improvements at some Brooklyn stations.)

What's new

If you're taking the L in the Manhattan-bound direction, you're riding in the tube where the rehabilitation is complete. Lots of the improvements aren't obvious (we'll detail them in the next L Project Weekly), but one is: it's a MUCH smoother ride now.

That's because we've replaced all of the rails there, and because we specifically used continuous welded rail. This kind of rail is literally continuous, so you don't have those bumps anymore, and our trains get less wear and tear as a result.

The news

For more information about the project milestone, click the button below to read: "Governor Cuomo Announces First Phase of L Project Tunnel Rehabilitation is Complete Ahead of Schedule and on Budget"
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, October 6, 2019 12:16 AM
Welcome to the L Project Weekly Halftime Extravaganza! Sorry, we don’t have Beyoncé or Springsteen. But we did we have our team tour the finished L tube with the Governor, confirming that we are halfway through our L tunnel repairs. On budget, ahead of schedule. That’s worth applauding!

So this week, we’ll talk about this halfway milestone, what we’ve got done, and why you valued L riders can now expect better service…sooner than we thought.

Also: new details on service changes in October and November, how many miles of cable we installed, and which upcoming holiday will have normal L service? Read on to find out, and have a great weekend.
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New cables, discharge pipe, tracks, tunnel wall and more: Behold the completed Manhattan-bound tube.

Photo: Trent Reeves / MTA Capital Construction / September 21, 2019

Been There, Done That: One Tube Done, One Tube to Go

Last Sunday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made it official. We’re halfway through our L tunnel repairs, beating the schedule by three months! The Manhattan-bound tube is done. Now we’re swiveling our super-efficient renovation operation around and heading down the Brooklyn-bound tube. 
How did we get here? Why are we ahead of schedule? It’s definitely not luck. If you reread all of our LPW interviews (okay, not even we do that) you see one constant. Everyone we talked to says this was a new sort of MTA project. A newway of doing things. How so? How was it new? We collected all of your questions on the topic and turned it into a mini FAQ.  
Reader: So, the L tunnel rehab is really ahead of schedule? That means back to normal service sooner than planned?
L Project Weekly: Yes…and no. To sum up, we finished the Manhattan-bound tube in about 5 months. This means the whole tunnel rehabilitation is tracking to finish about three months earlier than even our most aggressive timeline of 15 months. We’re very happy about that. We’re now using the same new techniques to finish the Brooklyn-bound tube. If all goes well, we should have your critical Brooklyn-Manhattan link up and running sooner than planned. (Remember, there are other parts of the L Projectbesides the tunnel that are ongoing, like the new elevators, Union Square escalator and three new substations.) But no, we are not going back to normal service. The work we’ve done means a smoother ride, better service. And when the substations are done, more service. We’re not going back, we’re moving forward!
Reader: At Sunday’s press conference, the Governor called the L tunnel rehab “what happens when you abandon the old way of doing things and think outside the box.” What’s he referring to?
LPW: We don’t speak for the Governor. But let’s remember. The original plan called for a 15-month full shutdown of the L between 8 Av and Bedford Av. It also scheduled demolition and replacement of the entire tunnel duct wall. Instead, we tapped some of the nation’s top brains at the Cornell and Columbia engineering schools. We huddled with our project planners and train operators. By using some “outside the box” techniques, we kept your L trains running on regular weekday schedules. We shortened the work schedule. We made the tunnel even more resilient. And now, as the Governor announced, we even beat that shorter schedule to the halfway mark by three months.
Reader: What were these new techniques again? It seems like we’ve been reading about a lot of new techniques.
LPW: You’re right. We’ve reported a lot of new stuff. But there were two big innovations that made this continued service and rapid progress possible. Racks and panels! First, we hung all the tunnel cabling on an external racking system above flood levels instead of embedding them behind the duct wall. That’s faster, cheaper, and it makes cables easier to check and maintain. Second, we
used panels made of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) to form a new wall around the old one, instead of rebuilding the existing duct walls. For transit engineering in the United States, both of those techniques are new when applied to an existing transportation infrastructure.

Reader: Someone at the press conference talked about using these new methods to “revolutionize” the way the MTA does all its projects. What does that mean? You’ll use racks and panels for everything?
LPW: Hmm, tough crowd here. Actually, that was Janno Lieber, who’s our chief development officer and heads up our MTA Capital Construction unit. They’re an all-star team of engineers, architects, and planners who oversee our big construction projects and megaprojects. Some of the biggest projects in the world, in fact.
Reader: MTA Capital Construction is coordinating all the project teams on the L tunnel?
LPW: That’s right. And, as Janno noted, that’s something new as well. Historically, an operating agency like NYC Transit would manage all its own construction projects, big or small. But industry changes have opened up new opportunities. Things like design-build contracts, imaging software, digitized workflows, wireless field communication—it all adds up to big efficiencies. It makes sense now to have a dedicated team, like an in-house firm, coordinating all the construction elements. They can see the big picture, in terms of scheduling, while coordinating lots of project crews at a detailed level. It’s not something customers can see, like a new engineering technique, but it’s equally important.
Reader: This is the first time you’ve done this technique?
LPW: Not at all. We’ve always managed multiple contractors and work crews, of course. What’s new is for MTA Capital Construction to coordinate all the specialized construction contractors on a big subway repair job like this, while interfacing with ongoing subway operations. That’s what Janno was referring to. For us, the L tunnel job has been a model or pilot—a full-scale run-through for this way of doing things. Now that we’re halfway through we can say, yes (fist pump!), this is really working. This is the way to go.  
Reader: All I really want is the L tunnel finished. And better L train service, faster repair projects, a super safe subway system, more flood-resistant infrastructure, and more cost-efficiency. Is that too much to ask? 
LPW: No, it’s not. That’s exactly what we’re aiming to do. You summed it up nicely, reader!
Reader: One thing I still don’t understand. You said the new rack system holds the “tunnel cables.” What kind of cables are those?
LPW: Oh wow, cables! Tunnel cabling is a whole story unto itself. We’ll discuss that in a future “The Cable Guy” issue, not starring Jim Carrey. In the meantime, here’s the trailer...

The Cable Guy—Starring Real-Life L Tunnel Experts

We did a lot of work in the first tube. If you read the weekly construction look-ahead, you probably were wondering, "how much cable can they possibly be installing?!" So we counted them up. Tube 1 cables, by the numbers:
 Two types of communication cables—7,110 ft. each
Antennae cables—7,110 ft. on one wall, 7,960 ft. on the other
Five types of pump feeder, power and control cables—2,000 ft. each
 Fiber-optic cable—7,110 ft.
Signal cables—28,000 ft.
Tunnel lighting and conduit cables—15,930 ft.
Phone wires, sound, power cables—7,000 ft.
Receptacle power—7,965 ft.
Okay, that’s one subway tube, 13 types of cable, and over 25 miles of cabling. Which unspools to about 108 Empire State Buildings laid down horizontally end to end. More on cabling in an upcoming issue.

New schedule details: Union Square bypasses, 14th-St/6 Av accessibility work, Halloween

Remember when we announced that our Union Square escalator and 14 St-6 Av accessibility initiative were starting, but we didn't have all of the dates? The time has come!

But before we get to that, a brief reminder that not all service changes mean less service. Exhibit A: we're running normal L service on Halloween! It's a busy night in the city, especially near the L—that annual Village Halloween Parade ends right by the train. 

Check out our service info page on the L Project site for the full details; but here are the highlights:
  • Four scheduled one-night bypasses at Union Square
  • Several weeks of no weeknight or weekend service at 14 St-6 Av or 8 Av Stations for the accessibility project at 14 St-6 Av
  • Normal service on Halloween!
Plan a trip with alternative service

Halftime feature: How do you find the halfway point on subway platforms?

 Ever noticed this black and white board? Whenever a train rolls into the station, the conductor opens the window and points upward. What does it mean? It’s an old Japanese custom. Not joking! Here’s the deal.

When a train pulls into the station, it’s critical for safety that it align perfectly with the platform before the conductor opens the doors. But with only one conductor in the center of the train, how can they be certain? 
Well, right above the center of the platform there’s a black and white striped sign or “zebra board.” When conductors stop right at the zebra board, they know the train is aligned. As a double check they lower the window and point to the board. It’s also a way our conductors keep themselves alert and oriented during their workday. Good idea!
How did it come about? Word has it that back in the 1990s an MTA official was visiting Japan and noticed this safety practice in the Tokyo subway system, where it’s called shisa kanko or “see, point, call.” He brought the practice home, and it’s been shisa kanko ever since.
Hot tip: Want to find a conductor to ask a question? Find the zebra board and wait!

Glamour shot of the week: The L's new competitor in Manhattan

This was a big week for the L. But also for its above-ground Manhattan alternative, the M14 SBS—WHICH NOW HAS ITS OWN LANE. Thanks to the hard work by our partners at NYC Department of Transportation, NYPD and our bus team, we've already seen reports that the buses are on target with the projected 25% cut in travel time.

Have you tried the M14 SBS since Thursday? Especially on nights and weekends, use it instead of the L, if you're traveling in Manhattan. It's definitely a more reliable option. But don't take our word for it. Check out what your fellow MTA customers had to say

Photo: Marc. A. Hermann  / MTA NYC Transit / October 4, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 10/5/19

Someone asked if we were just going to copy and paste from the first tube's work rundowns. Great thinking, except for the fact that we are making improvements to our work plan, based on what we learned in the first go-round. For example: we're flipping the order of new discharge pipes and FRP panel installation (now, FRP panels then discharge pipes) as our crews will be able to work more efficiently.

Here's what we're doing in the week ahead:
  • Set up work containment areas prior to demolition
  • Start demolition on track wall tile and ductwall
  • Start installing cable racking system
  • Start conduit work: Emergency lighting fixtures, tunnel lighting system and wayside signal cable conduits
  • Install riser box and wire
  • Install new electrical panels at the pump room
  • Install feeder cables in the mezzanine areas of Bedford Av Station
  • Swap plates and ties, and remove and install contact rail parts in two locations on the Brooklyn side

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:41 PM
Hi there. Work started September 13 on that new escalator at Union Square. We're bypassing the station overnight this coming Tuesday to keep the job going. But why an escalator? How do we get it in that tight space? And what does "egress" have to do with it? We talk to three people from our engineering, construction and maintenance teams to get the uplifting intel.

Also: specific date and time info on the above-mentioned bypass, more demolition work this weekend, and we digress about egress. Have a super weekend.
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A construction rendering shows what the completed escalator at Union Square Station, L platform, could look like.

Image: MTA New York City Transit

Movin’ on up at Union Square: The "Rolls Royce of elevators," but better

Every job has its ups and downs. For some of our L Project colleagues, up and down is the job! This week, we’re talking to Kevin Moylan, Nathaniel Getzel, and Bharat Kothari, who are all part of our elevator and escalator engineering and operations. We’ll just call them the E&E Team. They’re here to tell us about what goes into installing and operating an escalator, and why the new one we’re working on at Union Square is unique. Among other things, you’ll learn that it is nothing like those lightweight mall escalators. (They’re pretty serious about that!)
L Project Weekly: First, guys, how many escalators do we have in our subway system?

E&E Team: We have 230 escalators now. We’ll have 231 once we get this one installed at Union Square.

LPW: Why are we installing this escalator? The Union Square Station has been operating for decades, why now?

E&E Team: It all starts with how many people are on the platform. Our stations operations and planning teams monitor this throughout our system, and then make a proposal if a change needs to happen. In this case, it was a proactive move—our plan to run more L trains once the substations are up and running means an increase in people on the platform. Based on the current state and projected numbers, an escalator was proposed. It’s all about clearing that platform between trains. What we call egress capacity.

LPW: Right, confirming personally. Union Square does get crowded.

E&E Team: Price of success. Our ridership really shot up on the L train. With the CBTC signaling, we started running more trains. We’re getting more people into the station faster. Now we’ve got to get them out faster.

LPW: How fast is faster?

E&E Team: This escalator will run up only, from the platform to the mezzanine. The code says an escalator can go 100 feet per minute. But you can get a variance if certain requirements are met, which we did. So we’ll be running it at 120 feet per minute.

LPW: So how many people are we “egressing”?

E&E Team: That escalator has a rise of 26.5 feet. It has 46 steps, what we call the exposed steps. Those are the steps from bottom to top on the outside, not including the ones rotating through the underside. We figure two people per step at maximum capacity, or 92 people. But realistically, people will space themselves out a bit. So more like 23 people on at a given time.

LPW: Okay, got the calculator here. So our added egress capacity is about 23 people every 15 seconds, right? That’s 92 per minute, about 5,520 straphangers per hour, up and out!

E&E Team: I suppose the maximum is something like that. Too many variables to be exact. Even when it’s crowded, there are usually people standing on the right and walking up on the left. That’s the etiquette, but it actually moves fewer people.

LPW: So, tell us about the escalator itself. We don’t build it ourselves do we? Where does it come from? How does it get here?
E&E Team: One of the tricky things about designing an escalator for our tight space is planning how you actually get it into place. We’ll bring it into Union Square Station on a work train. But then we have to maneuver around the columns and spaces in the station to get it into the excavation. So we do very precise calculations of all the angles and lengths in advance, and we ended up with the six parts.

LPW: An escalator has a lot of moving parts that have to be maintained. Even the escalators you see in department stores or malls…

E&E Team: Let’s stop just a minute. Our escalators are nothing like mall escalators! Those are lightweight escalators. And they get turned off for 8 or 10 hours a night. Ours are heavy duty, transit-grade escalators. They carry tons of people every day. They run all day and night. They’re exposed to dirt, water, weather. It’s a very harsh environment. They have lots of complex safety sensors and monitors. If a mall escalator is like the cheapest Chevy our escalators are like a Rolls Royce. Better than a Rolls Royce.

LPW: We can see you feel strongly about that.

E&E Team: There’s no comparison.

LPW: You mentioned safety sensors. Where are those?

E&E Team: Our escalators are designed with lots of advanced sensors and monitors. For example, there are safety sensors where the steps fold into the combs at the top and bottom. If something gets stuck in there, the escalator shuts off. In fact, we do get shutdowns from people jumping or running or carrying something heavy on the escalator. Whenever an escalator shuts down, monitors instantly signal the maintenance office and at the same time, they automatically post the outage advisory right on our public website until it’s fixed.

LPW: That’s honest dealing. You said the new escalator at Union Square will only run up. Would we ever reverse it? Can it be put in reverse to run down?

E&E Team: All escalators are technically reversible. But no, this one will only run up. Wherever you can fit just one escalator, you want to carry customers up the stairs. Also, escalators actually get broken in, like new shoes. If they’re running up, people will tend to cluster on one side and the machinery will adjust a little. If you reverse it after a time, then you’ll get more repair issues. These are heavy duty machines, but there are lots of sensitive parts.

LPW: Interesting. One more thing. You mentioned the way the steps fold into the combs at the top and bottom, which is kind of mechanically fascinating. Customers never see the underside of an escalator, but you guys do. What does it look like?

E&E Team: Like bicycle chains. Like two rotating bicycle chains and a shaft.

LPW: Trying to picture that. Anyway, thanks guys. We know there will be some necessary service changes to complete this big job, and we’ll keep readers informed. Good to know we’ll be getting the Rolls Royce of escalators and more egress capacity!

L trains will skip Union Square overnight Tuesday to Wednesday

 As we mentioned last week, we're going to have four nights where L trains will bypass Union Square Station, making all other stops. 

The first is this coming Tuesday to Wednesday, overnight (overnight = midnight to 5 a.m.), October 15-16.

Check signs at Union Square for travel tips, or click the button below for more details on this and all upcoming service changes. 
Plan your trip

Curious about the egress? These people were!

We use the term “egress capacity” to measure flow at subway stations. Not a common term, as the wily P.T. Barnum knew. 

From 1841 to 1865, the impresario ran his famous Barnum’s American Museum on Broadway, near today’s Fulton Street Station. Exhibits included trained bears, phrenologists, exotic dancers, an oyster bar, waxworks, the Fiji Mermaid, and Ned the Learned Seal. About 15,000 customers per day paid 25 cents to visit the museum at its peak.

Many lingered and Barnum faced his own “capacity” problem. He solved it by posting a sign reading, honestly, ”This Way to the Egress.” Thinking it some fabulous creature, customers exited...and had to pay to enter again. (Barnum didn’t give free transfers.)

Glamour shot of the week: What's behind floorboard #2?

Elevator fun fact: Most of the time, when you think there is one elevator at a station, there is actually more than one. Why? Because there is one from street to mezzanine, and then another one from mezzanine to platform. 

This is the case at Bedford Av, where there will be one street to mezzanine elevator, and then another one from mezzanine to platform—its future home is shown in this photo. There are many complexities of retrofitting old stations with new elevators, one of which you can see here—the tangle of the city's utility lines!

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / September 23, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 10/12/19

We're continuing our demolition work and making progress on the tunnel cabling system. Check out what we're doing (mostly) underground this week:
  • Set up work containment areas prior to demolition
  • Continue demolition: track wall tile at the south end of 1 Av Station and ductwall from N 7th to the pump room in two areas
  • Remove and splice old positive cable
  • Conduit work: Install conduit for heat trace, fiber optic cable monitoring, tunnel lighting near Bedford Av Station
  • Pull CBTC fiber optic cable into Bedford Av relay room
  • Install new tunnel cabling system between 1st Ave and Ave D: Racks, junction boxes, tunneling lighting cable
  • Install overhead pipe and supports at Avenue D
  • Swap plates and ties, and remove and install contact rail parts in two locations on the Brooklyn side
  • Receive and install at least two of the six components for the Union Square escalator

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, October 12, 2019 5:34 PM

Dave, I need to thank you for posting these notices. As an EE with an interest in transit, I find these fascinating. Most people don't care about what it take to operate mass transit so these provide insight into the infrastructure required to move large quantities of people safely. And to remember nost of this system was installed more than a hundred years.


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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, October 19, 2019 12:23 PM
Hi again. This week, we’re emerging from the Canarsie Tube and hitting the streets. Specifically, we’ll explain those news-making changes on 14th Street—changes that make our M14-SBS bus your best way to get across town. Is that good news? You bet—and we’ve got the quotes to prove it.

Also: Cool bus depot names (seriously!); overnight live report on that Union Square escalator install; the latest L Project updates; and upcoming service changes.
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The new M14-SBS zooms past Union Square on the newly-liberated 14 St.

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

What’s all the fuss about that bus? It’s the new M14 busway!

Not often do city buses get rousing reviews from the critics. Okay, almost never. So this week, we’re looking at the very positive early reports on the M14 SBS route, where our car-free crosstown busway is finally up and running. You’ll find out why it’s a big deal.  And why it’s a great new option for L riders. Here are some questions we thought you might ask:
What’s the M14 bus got to do with the L train?
Plenty! The M14 is now your go-to crosstown option for late nights, weekends, and any scheduled bypasses on the Manhattan side of the L line. It parallels the L line from 8th Av to 1st Av (or further on either end, if you wish). And, as of last week, the M14 SBS is making that crosstown run a whole lot faster. 
The M14 was already a Select Bus Service (SBS). How can it go faster?
Short answer? No cars! Like all SBS routes, the M14 has off-board fare payment and all-door boarding, which means that the bus can leave each stop more quickly. Special signaling along 14 St helps give the bus a "green wave" through intersections. Now that the city has limited vehicular access to 14 St, the path is clear for M14 buses, trucks making local deliveries, and emergency vehicles.
So no cars on 14th Street? No double parking? No traffic jams? 
There are car exceptions. Taxis and other vehicles can pick up and drop off, but must then take the first available turn off of 14 Street. Otherwise, yes! Seriously, check it out yourself—it's a sight to behold. The old clogged, honking, snail-pace corridor is no more. The whole street is painted that Bus Lane Red (so popular with interior decorators). You can see and hear the difference. It’s emptier and quieter. Some New Yorkers find it all a bit shocking.

Sounds good, especially for bus riders. Why didn’t you do this sooner?
New York has its traditions. Tickertape parades, late-night pizza slices, and yes, lawsuits. The 14 Street busway was actually part of the original L Project, but even with our revised approach, NYC DOT saw that it also had huge benefits for the city and for some 27,000 transit riders per day.
Unfortunately, some residents on side streets worried it would send more traffic their way, even though city planners disagreed. Thus, lawsuit! And  lawsuits move slower than… well, than a bus on the old 14 St. Two weeks ago, the courts cleared the path for the busway, and here we are. 

So what’s the verdict? Is the M14 busway working as planned? 
We prefer to answer such questions with hard data, which is still in the early stages. But the early anecdata are good—very good—and a flurry of eyewitness reports has made for some very gratifying reading. Here's one example from Council Speaker Cory Johnson, who lives on 15 St and was a self-professed busway skeptic: "I am thrilled to say that this pilot is really taking off. Buses are moving ahead of schedule and the side streets are not overrun with cars…. People are calling this, Miracle on 14th Street.” Yes!
Good for L riders. But why are transit fans so excited about this? 
This is a great new option for you L riders, but it’s also a great new option for New York City. Restricting cars on a major crosstown street to this degree is unprecedented, and it's clearly working. The buses are rolling and, as Speaker Johnson and others are saying, that side street apocalypse hasn’t materialized. NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is already calling it “a template for other parts of the city.” As she told a New York Timesreporter: “The results have been even more exciting than we thought… not just that the buses are moving faster, but the street feels calmer.” Keep Calm and Bus On!
One last thing. Do you need a special ticket for an SBS bus? 
Okay, maybe you’re an L train straphanger and you’ve never ridden an SBS bus? There’s only one thing you need to know. You’ll see ticketing machines at each M14-SBS stop. Just insert your MetroCard to get an SBS ticket. Same fare or transfer. With that ticket you can board the bus through any door, without having to dip your card or show the bus operator. That speeds things up. Be sure to keep your ticket, because our roving inspectors may ask for it. Or just keep it as a souvenir of your ride… on Manhattan’s first car-free busway!

L trains will skip Union Square overnight Monday to Tuesday, and Thursday to Friday, this week

 We had one night where we bypassed Union Square on the L this past week. Three more to go, including two this week, Monday to Tuesday, and Thursday to Friday. 

The timing is the same⁠—service changes will happen overnight (overnight = midnight to 5 a.m.).

Check signs at Union Square for travel tips, use this handy line map on the left, or click the button below for more details on this and all upcoming service changes. 
Plan your trip

Speaking of buses, did you know...?

You've got to admit: the MTA has some cool bus depot names. Out in Sunset Park, we’ve got the Jackie Gleason Depot, named for the Brooklyn native who immortalized bus driver Ralph Kramden in “The Honeymooners.” There’s the Casey Stengel Depot  in Flushing Meadows, where the Mets play. We have the Michael J. Quill Depot in Midtown. Can’t place that name? “Red Mike” Quill was the fiery leader of the original TWU, the subway workers’ union. In Harlem stands the Mother Clara Hale Depot, named for the beloved founder of Hale House, a home for unwanted children. And East Harlem has the Tuskeegee Airmen Depot, honoring the corps of African-American military pilots who fought in World War II.

Progress update: Union Square escalator is ahead of schedule

Last week, we reported on the new escalator we’re installing at Union Square Station. We explained that it would arrive on work a train in five pieces, designed to fit through the stations' columns into place. These are heavy pieces. Timing is everything. The trick is to do as much as possible in that overnight outage. Here’s our Tuesday night live email exchange with engineer and program officer Bharat Kothari:

L Project Weekly—5:11 p.m. Bharat, good luck tonight! Fingers crossed you get all those pieces of the escalator in for the Union Square platform. Let us know.
Bharat Kothari—12:33 a.m. Thanks, really appreciate it. So far so good! Work train arrived at 11:45 p.m. First, heaviest section has been off-loaded. Keeping fingers crossed!
Bharat Kothari—8:23 a.m. All 5 escalator sections off-loaded by 1:45am. The work train is cleaned and released early--3:55am. The head section, the heaviest one, is already rigged and in its final place. The next 2 sections have been hoisted together and connected to the first section. Expect to wrap up tonight’s work in a timely manner. The following 2 sections will stay within barricades, be connected, and hoisted tomorrow night. Thanks again for the good wishes!
L Project Weekly—9:10 a.m. Huge news! Congrats to you and the team. And thanks for all of the detail. Will include this in the newsletter this week!

Glamour shot of the week: What did the tunnel look like post-Sandy?

As you know, work in the Canarsie Tube recently transitioned from the Manhattan-bound track to the Canarsie-bound track. And as you certainly recall, the impetus for this project was the aftermath left behind by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Here's a photo of what the Canarsie-bound track (Q1 track, for those of you scoring at home) looked like before construction began.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / September 30, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 10/19/19

We're continuing our demolition work and making progress on the tunnel cabling system. Check out what we're doing (mostly) underground this week:
  • Install conduits for duct bank fiber optic cable monitoring at Avenue D
  • Install wires for tunnel lighting
  • Splice signal fiber cables at Driggs Avenue entrance
  • Relocate radio fiber cable            
  • Pour concrete for new plates
  • Install discharge pipe from Avenue D to pump room
  • Install tunneling lighting fixtures, junction boxes, receptacles & brackets from Avenue D to 1st Avenue
  • Finalize ADA ramp steel connections at Bedford Avenue

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, October 27, 2019 2:28 AM
Hi there. Big birthday tomorrow! Any guesses who? Yup, it’s the 115th birthday of the NYC Subway. More on that in a minute. Also, another big day on Thursday. Here’s to you, trick-or-treaters. We will be providing regular L train service for NYC’s beloved ghoulfest. And to get in the mood, we’ll look at a topic that might seem spooky at first, but our tried-and-true processes and expert team mean it’s actually pretty tame. Subway train evacuations! Read on, if you dare.
Plus: About that 115th anniversary; upcoming schedule changes; and our increasingly audacious list of work on tap.  
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The new FRP structures in the L tunnel: a new wall AND a better exit option, in the event of an evacuation.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / September 8, 2019

What the FRP has to do with...subway train evacuations?

After seeing photos of the new FRP structures replacing the benchwall in the L tunnel, some of you wanted to know more about how we get customers safely out of trains stalled between stations. Sounds Halloween-scary, right? Dark tunnels, cobwebs? In fact, an evacuation from our subway trains is very rare, very safe, and by-the-book (i.e. there are practiced, proven steps). We got some reassuring tips from Barry Greenblatt, our VP & Chief Officer at Subways Service Delivery—including what the new FRP in the tunnel has to do with it.
L Project Weekly: Barry, tell us, what are some of the reasons for subway evacuations?
Barry Greenblatt: Before I answer that, I just want to say one thing. If you are ever on a stalled train between stations, always, always, wait for and follow instructions from our train crews or emergency personnel. Never get off the train yourself. For safety, self-evacuation is the worst thing you can do. It may also force us to shut down power, which means more of your fellow customers would get stuck.
LPW: Got it. Keep cool, wait for instructions. Now, what are some of the reasons for subway evacuations?
BG: One more thing before we get to that. Let’s clarify what an “evacuation” actually is and why it’s so rare.
When we talk about “evacuations” we mean only those situations where passengers are guided to   get off the train and walk along either the trackbed, or a walkway on the benchwall, to an exit. This process is actually our last option when there’s an issue. When we move customers from a stalled train to a rescue train, that’s not technically an “evacuation.”
LPW: Okay, an evacuation is “when passengers are guided to get off the train and walk along either the trackbed or a walkway on the benchwall to an exit.” And that’s pretty rare.
BG: Yes, it happens less than 10 times a year, out of millions of train trips. That’s less than 0.0001 percent of trips. When we determine that a train can’t move or power itself between stations, we first use a process we call “transferring to reach or rescue trains” to get customers quickly and safely to the nearest station.
LPW: Reach, rescue. And the difference is…?
BG: A “rescue train” moves in close behind or in front of the stalled train. Passengers walk between the adjoining cars to board the rescue train or trains. Once we get everybody onboard, the rescue train carries them to the nearest station. The “reach train” is like a bridge to the next station. It parks between the stalled train and the nearest platform. Customers walk through the cars out onto the platform. It may not even seem like two trains.
LPW: But even this is not that common, right? What’s our first option if a train stalls between stations?
BG: That’s true, evacuation is our last choice. And sending rescue or reach trains is not our first option either. It likely requires bypassing the signal system at very slow speeds or some rerouting of multiple lines, just to get an empty train to the incident train. It may take 20 minutes or more to get a train in and get all passengers back to a station platform, depending. There are so many variables. It may impact service on other lines, and of course we are trying to minimize that.
LPW: So, let’s say a train shuts down or stalls between stations. What’s the first thing we do? What’s the most common scenario?
BG: First, the crew and our Rail Command Center (RCC) determine what’s happened. The most common reason a train stalls between stations is the emergency brake…
LPW: Barry, quick point here to readers. Pulling the emergency brake will stop the train and not allow it to move. So please do not pull the brake if a passenger is sick or for some other onboard issue that does not require the train to stop. That only delays getting the appropriate aid on-site. Wait till you get in the station and notify a member of the train crew. The most effective way is to use the Passenger Emergency Intercom.

BG: Right! So, the most common reason for stopping is an emergency brake pulled or triggered by something on the track. We have on-car “tripping devices” that can trigger the brake, typically by engaging a signal, but also by coming in contract with objects on the tracks. Like everything we do it’s a “fail safe” system. Anything not right, the train stops.
LPW: So we’re not just waiting for a train ahead or a signal. The train stops between stations. Then what?
BG: The crew and the RCC determine the cause. First, they’ll work on recharging the emergency braking system. If the train operator doesn’t know the cause for an emergency brake activation, they’ll go down to the roadbed and try to determine the cause.
If the problem is the train itself, we’ll send a road car inspector, or RCI. They’re mechanics, stationed around the system, who can get to a train fast. Usually RCIs (along with train service supervisors) can troubleshoot the problem much faster than it takes to get a rescue or reach train in place. Under 20 minutes. So, yes, we have lots of options and first try to get a train to move on its own.
LPW: Okay, but what about a real evacuation? How would that work?
BG: Let’s say we have a power outage. Our emergency lighting would still work, but the third-rail power is out. So we can’t run a rescue train in. In these rare cases, we usually call in the NYC Fire Department, which actually does training with our crews for this kind of situation. The third-rail power is off, the emergency lights are on. Only then would we direct passengers off the train to the nearest platform or exit. This is all done very carefully with our crews taking the lead.
LPW: Thanks, Barry. We know you’ve been there personally, driven rescue trains and led passengers out during the 2003 blackout. Anything else you want to tell our L train readers?  
BG: Yes. The new FRP structure in the L tunnel has another perk: if there ever is an evacuation in the tunnel, the FRP is much better than the old benchwall. A few reasons: it’s yellow for better visibility. It’s a more level surface than the old concrete. And we specifically added some traction treading to the top of it, making it a less slippery surface.
LPW: So, readers. Two, four, six, eight—never self-evacuate! Doubt that’ll catch on, but anything for safety.

Don't forget: Service changes in Manhattan and Brooklyn on the L start Monday

 We're continuing those station improvement projects in Brooklyn. And we're jump-starting the 14 St-6 Av accessibility project. Which means those days we previously announced of no service at 8 Av or 6 Av, and at several stations in Brooklyn?

They are now upon us (except for Halloween—see below). 

We’ll be running those shuttle buses in Brooklyn, and the same extra service on the M and G. Check signs at your station for travel tips, use this handy line map on the right, or click the button below for more details on this and all upcoming service changes. 
Plan your trip

Celebrate Halloween with normal L service!

Yep, we're all about the treats on Halloween. No tricks. As we previously shared, the L will be running its normal frequencies from Halloween night to the next morning, November 1

Remember that L trains during overnight hours (1 to 5 a.m.) run every 20 minutes, so that still stands, work or no work.
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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 2, 2019 12:44 PM
Hi again. We’ve installed a ton of new bright white track tile at 1 Av and Bedford Av. And if you haven’t been blinded by its glistening glaze, you may have noticed black letters and numbers with a yellow background, including a…“Q”? If you like puzzles, read on. This week, we’re going totally transit geek, and explaining the weird system we use to mark distances on our tracks. Useful for us, trivia know-how for you.

Plus: More good news on 14th Street; final tile and handrails coming to a Bedford Av platform staircase; reminders on upcoming L service changes.

Have a great NYC marathon weekend (Runners—GOOD LUCK! Spectators—use our travel tips here, including taking the M or J to Marcy Av for a good watch spot on Bedford Avenue.).
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Find the track wall. Now find the yellow marker (hint: right in front of the speedy train). Zoom in and you'll see a "Q" with a combo of numbers...even though it's the "L" train.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / August 7, 2019

"L" train. Running on "Q" stationing. What's up with that?

Next time you’re standing on the L platform, look across the track. You’ll see a Q1 or Q2 with some numbers stenciled on the track wall. Why? What’s that Q got to do with the L line? We passed this question around to a brain trust of in-house experts, from rail planners to maintenance of way leads.
L Project Weekly: First, let’s be perfectly honest with our readers. There is no topic as complicated as the history of NYC subway numbering. Maybe quantum physics, nothing else.  

Experts: It can make your head hurt, yes. They may want to stop reading right now.

LPW: Fair warning. Anyway, a keen-eyed customer asked why there’s a “Q1” or “Q2” and a number on the track wall of the L line. That has nothing to do with the Q train, does it?

Experts: Not at all. It’s a whole different numbering system we use called “stationing.” The Q1 and Q2 are just the original labels for those two tracks on the L line.

LPW: Sorry, why do we call them Q tracks? Why not something wild and original like…the L tracks?

Experts: Like a lot of things in our system, it goes way back. Those tracks got labeled the Q tracks before there was an L train, when it was still the Canarsie line in the old BMT system. Fun fact: While other lines have been renamed with various parts merging together, they’ve been the Q tracks all along.

LPW: We’ll come back to that. But first, tell us what this “stationing” system is. What does it measure and why do we need it?

Experts: It measures distances and locations. Each track has its label, in this case the Q1 and Q2 tracks. Then each location along the tracks is measured, in feet, from one end of the line. On the L, we measure from Eighth Ave. Those numbers stenciled on the track wall are the number of feet from the start point at Eighth Ave.

LPW: Okay, say we’re standing on the Q1 side of an L platform and we’re 1,000 ft from Eighth Ave. We’d look across the track and see Q1-1000 on the wall, right? It’s just the track letter and the number of feet.

Experts: We’re talking subway history here. Nothing is that simple. For some reason, we use a plus sign to break up the number of feet into hundreds. Don’t ask why, we just do. So what you’d actually see is Q1-10+00. That’s how we mark 1,000 ft on the Q1 track. If we were 50,900 ft along the Q1 track, you’d see Q1-509+00. Got it?

LPW: Um, let’s move on. What are these stationing numbers used for?

Experts: We use them to mark the location of things. We have to keep track of and manage our assets, and this is a good identifier. Track signals, for example. Let’s say we have a signal on track Q1 on the L line 50,900 ft from Eighth Ave. That’s the signal at Q1-509+00, and it will be called “Q1-509,” dropping the pesky “+00.” No other signal in
our system has that address. Even if we revised the train service numbers, that’s still the signal at Q1-509+00. Also, anyone working on the track knows right where they are, just like using street numbers.

LPW: So, the basic idea is pretty simple. But again, why Q? Why weird numbers with plus signs. Why not just create a new system that’s a little more…logical?

Experts: People think of our subway system as a big machine, but it’s more like an ecosystem. Those numbers are used for overlapping contracts, engineering plans and infrastructure parts. Changing them would be complicated and costly. But really, it works well for us, and, since it’s not something customers need to know to navigate the system, it’s not necessary to simplify it.

LPW: Yeah, we have lots of interesting ways of doing things. Mostly from the legacy of merging three original subway systems—the two private companies, the IRT and BMT, and the public IND.

Experts: Right, each of the three subway systems had its own logic and history. That’s where the Q tracks on the L line comes from. The BMT tracks were labeled with letters alphabetically, in roughly the order they opened. The Canarsie line was opened in 1928, later than most, so it got labeled “Q,” lower down on the alphabet. When the three subway systems were merged in the 1940s, the line numbers no longer made sense. There were duplicate line numbers, trains, and stations.

LPW: So the Q track was there from the start. What about the L line? Where did that letter come from?

Experts: Bit of history here. When the Chrystie Street Connection opened in 1967, joining up the BMT and IND lines, the planners knew they had to renumber all the subway lines to prevent total chaos. So they gave numbers to the IRT lines and letters to the BMT lines, based on the lettering system used on the IND lines. The L, for example, had been the BMT number 16. It got lettered L—well, actually “LL” because the IND originally used double letters for local trains—in 1967.

LPW: Why the LL? Is there any logic to our numbers and letters? Any hidden pattern?

Experts: Well, there is one thing most people don’t know. Look on our map. The number 1 train is the furthest west and the line numbers get higher as you move from west to east. Same with the lettered lines outside of the core of Manhattan south of Central Park, generally. The A, B, C, and D are the furthest west along Central Park West, and the lettered lines also get higher as you move east.

LPW: Really? So there is a hidden system!

Experts: Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that…

LPW: Of course it is. We’ll stop there for now, thanks. Anyway, now our L customers can decipher the track wall glyphs and tell exactly how many feet they are standing from Eighth Ave. Good conversation starter, or ender.

L trip planner for your week and weekend coming up

It's all on website as you know, loyal reader, but we'll save you the click. Here are the service changes you need to know about for the week and weekend coming up (i.e. Nov 8-11, not this weekend):
 Weeknights, Mon 10/28-Wed 11/27
  • No service at 8 Av or 6 Av (use the M14 SBS!)
  • No service between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs and Broadway Junction (use our free shuttle buses!)

Weekends, 11/8-11-11; 11/15-11/18; 11/22-11/25

No service at 8 Av or 6 Av (use the M14 SBS!)
Plan your trip →

Coming to select M14 A/D SBS stops near you: Bus boarding platforms!

 Just when you thought NYC DOT and we were done with improving that peaceful, speedy path also known as 14th-Street-with-transit-priority, we have another cool thing coming. Bus boarding platforms!

Don't be misled by their understated gray-plastic-y vibes (see photo). These are bus-speeding, customer and pedestrian-easing powerhouses from our partners at NYC DOT. They have a bunch of them on our bus routes throughout the city that have already made a huge positive impact. 

And starting this Thursday, November 7, these bus boarding platforms are coming to 14th Street as part of the transit priority initiative!

We're installing seven of these beauties along the route. Here's what you need know:
  • Each one is expected to take about 6 days to install, and while we're working, the bus will bypass that stop.
  • We'll be doing two at a time, working from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., but never two consecutive stops so you can use the next closest stop.
  • Check signs at the bus stops and listen to announcements on buses for more info. We'll also keep this page updated as our construction progresses:
Keep tabs on the non-boring bus boarder progress →

Finishing touches coming to Bedford Av platform stairs

As you know, we're opening stairs for you as we finish the basic stuff: concrete, steel, etc. Now we're going back and prettying them up.

Starting this Monday, November 4, one of the two platform stairs on the Bedford Ave side will be closed for about a month (the other one will stay open to keep you moving). Here's what we're doing:
  • Installing new wall tiles—bye blue plywood!
  • Swapping in the permanent guardrails and handrails
Read all about what's going on at Bedford Av →

Glamour shot(s) of the week: Welding is 

Thermite welding: a story. Follow the numbers to watch our crews safely go through this process, which at the end creates a welded joint.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / October 26, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 11/2/19

Track work and demo continues. Check out what we are up to this week:
  • Continue demo work (between the circuit breaker house and Ave D)
  • Make duct wall repairs (also between the circuit breaker house and Ave D)
  • Install FRP planels in several locations
  • Install more conduit: Ave B substation; fire alarm at the tunnel lighting room near Bedford Av Station; fire alarm and fare control machines at 1 Av Station; mezzanine lighting at 1 Av Station
  • Weld negative rail and drill out third rail in one area
  • Install new communications cables and test them in the communications room near 1 Av Station
  • Continue progress installing new plates and ties and install new contact rail equipment from Bedford to N 7th between two zones
  • Continue working to relocate the radio fiber cable       
  • Install new platform wall tiles at the 1 Av Station platform

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 9, 2019 11:56 AM
Hello! Big week. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the opening of the new Ave A entrance at the 1 Av Station on Monday. We thought it was pretty cool, but you really took it to another level. Read on for more details about what's open and what's closing (First Ave entrance, Brooklyn-bound side, closing on Monday). 

Also: a list of all the L Project-ish entrance openings/reopenings we've done; reminders about service changes; and an update on bus boarder platform progress.
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The "before" shot: Looking west on the south side of 14th Street and Avenue A in 1920. Just across Avenue A is the corner where we opened a new entrance to the 1 Av Station on Monday this week.

Photo: Kincaid / New York City Transit Museum / July 21, 1920

On the Avenue: Recap of the 1 Av entrance opening at Ave A south, 14 St restoration and more

A lot has changed on 14th St since we first opened the 1 Av Station in 1924. Less men in hats, for sure. And now, a whole new entrance at Avenue A. 
We shared a bunch of details about our progress on 14th St on Monday this week when we opened the entrance (pics or it didn't happen). Here are the 5 things you need to know:

1. With two street stairs, the new Ave A south (Brooklyn-bound) entrance is open. The old First Ave south entrance will close on 11/11 (Monday) so we can totally rebuild it. 
The old entrances are...old. Thousands of people a day plus wet New York weather over nearly 100 years will do that. We're replacing all of the structural beams and redoing the walls and tile.

While we're working:
  • On weekdays between 5 AM and 9:45 PM, use the new Ave A south entrance for Brooklyn-bound service.
  • On nights/weekends, use the First Ave north for service in both directions.
2. Other parts of the 1 Av Station improvements are also ahead of schedule, including the elevators.
The two new elevators, one on either side of 14th Street near Ave A, were originally supposed to open in November 2020. Now, we're estimating a June 2020 completion.

3. But wait, there are more transit improvements along 14th St!
The new entrances and elevators are the most visually obvious improvements. Here are the other major upgrades we're working on:
  • With the two new entrances come two new turnstile areas, adding 600 square feet of public space
  • New wall tiles, energy-efficient lighting, new turnstiles and new fare control machines
  • New substation near Avenue B to power more trains along the whole L line, one of three for the project
4. The new Ave A north (Manhattan-bound) entrance will open later, sometime in 2020.
The First Ave north side will close then, just like the south side entrances. We're phasing the entrance work so we can always have two entrances open at all times, one on either side of the tracks.

5. Last but certainly not least—street restoration is ahead of schedule, too.
Originally, the street restoration wasn't supposed to be completed until May 2020. Now, most of it will be done by January. We'll be pouring new sidewalks and getting rid of or shrinking our worksites. Reduced barricaded areas will stay around the two elevators and on the north side of 14th St by the Ave B substation. All work will be underground except for the elevators and reconstructed entrances.

Still want more details? Click the button below for the press release.
More intel on the entrance opening and 14 St restoration →

So are you opening other entrances, too?

The tunnel gets all the attention, so it's natural that you might have forgotten that we've actually opened or reopened a bunch of entrances along the L corridor. Ten, so far, in fact. It was all part of the L Project's design, which meant fixing the tunnel AND investing in other ways to keep you moving, like adding space in stations.

 Let's break it down:

1. Flushing Av JMZ: 2 reopened, on either side of the platform in July 2017.

2. Bedford Av L: 1st of 4 new total opened in June 2018. The construction is done for these 4 new entrances (making for 8 total at the station), and now we're going back and closing them in a phased approach to do the final finishes.

3. Hewes St JMZ: 2 reopened, on either side of the platform in November 2018.

4. Metropolitan-Lorimer GL (photo here): 2 new entrances plus a massive rehab of an old mezzanine, extending the station several hundred feet south toward Grand Ave in Brooklyn.

5. 1 Av L: First set of two street stairs opened in November 2019. Two more coming.

Once we open the second one at 1 Av Station, it will make for a grand total of 12 new or reopened entrances at 5 stations. Good news for you and our very busy giant-scissors-and-ribbon duo.
All those L Project upgrades you might have forgotten about →

Subway math: How great is that new Ave A entrance? Let us count the steps!  

“Two commuters let out a yell of excitement….” said one news report. Was it a celebrity sighting? No, it was a subway entrance sighting—specifically, our brand new L station entrance at Ave A, on the south side.

Why the excitement? The new entrance means our Alphabet City customers will be saving many, many steps to and from their daily stop. How many steps? Let’s do some subway math:
First, we need the distance from Ave A to First Ave. As every Manhattanite knows, north-south blocks are 20 to a mile. But east-west blocks vary. No problem. We just consult our handy 1892 NYC Bureau of Buildings block atlas. There it is (see above image): 613 feet.

Now, according to our station planners, about 21,000 riders will use that new entrance every weekday. In total legwork per day, that’s 12,873,000 feet saved or 2,438 miles! But wait, most riders walked that distance twice daily, right? So that’s 4,876 miles per weekday. Or 1.27 million miles per year!

What’s that in total time saved per year? At an average gait of 3 MPH, that’s 422,568 hours. Or about 48 years! And to answer our original question, the average walker takes about 2,252 steps per mile. So collectively each year, our Alphabet City riders save 48 years and 2.86 billion steps. Yell of excitement, please!

Actually, there’s a moral to our subway math. Each subway rider is unique. You’re you. But in subway planning, we deal with millions of riders over billions of trips. Little things add up. Those extra seconds when people hold a train door. Those five minutes saved by better signaling. That new entrance 613 feet closer. It all adds up, it all counts!      

L service changes in Brooklyn and Manhattan continue

Don't forget to check the service change page before you head out the door this weekend and week ahead.
  • In Brooklyn on weeknights, you'll use our free shuttle buses which replace L service between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs and Broadway Junction.
  • In Manhattan on weekends and weeknights, use the M14 SBS to travel to 6 Av or 8 Av Station. 
Get the full schedule and trip tips →

Reminder: Bus boarding platforms continue to be installed on the M14 A/D SBS

As we mentioned last week, we started this past Thursday, November 7, installing bus boarding platforms at seven stops along the M14 A/D SBS on 14th Street as part of the transit priority initiative.

Plan ahead by checking out our website for the latest on our progress, and start and finish dates as we have them:

And if you're really into bus boarding platforms, check out our press release with NYC DOT this week.
What's happening with these bus boarders →

Glamour shot of the week: Demo in tube #2 is ✔️

We're doing the demolition in sealed, protected areas in the tunnel (see white tarp behind our crew member here). But not anymore. Why? No, we're not adopting a new safety standard. Demo is done! As of last weekend, we officially finished the demolition work in the second tube. 
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / October 26, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 11/9/19

Demo's done, and we're onto other things. Namely—FRP structural panels. Here's what we are doing this week:
  • Continue installing platform wall tile at 1 Av
  • Close off the old First Ave south entrance and get to work
  • Make duct wall repairs in two areas
  • Install lots of FRP structural panels
  • Remove old handrails in the tunnel
  • Remove old equipment at the circuit breaker house
  • Continue progress at the Ave B substation: install more conduit and new equipment
  • Remove and reinstall transponders
  • Test and splice signal fiber at the signal room near Bedford Av
  • Splice tunnel lighting cables
  • Continue progress installing new plates and ties and install new contact rail equipment from Bedford to N 7th between two zones
  • Weld six different rails

Stay connected

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 16, 2019 10:38 AM
Hi there. Your holiday gift has come early. No, sorry, it's not a commemorative pink "Ask me about the L Project" button. It's normal L service! That's right, our crews are taking off Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, and after a lot of route recalculations and people shifting, we've made it possible to run normal L service the night before the holiday, the holiday itself, and that evening. Sound complicated? It is. We explain how planning planned work gets done. 

Plus: travel tips for the week ahead (that Union Square bypass is CANCELED); bus boarding platform update; and construction progress. Have a fantastic fall weekend.
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Planned work details. For the L Project, look for the pink signs—or, one of our team members!

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / October 26, 2019

Planning for planned work: The method behind the mix

Normal L service on Thanksgiving. Let’s give thanks! But wait. If the L service pattern was baked into the schedule, how are there enough trains and staff to do it? And what does it mean for impacts to other lines? We asked Glenn Lunden, one of our rail planning maestros, about how they manage this cornucopia of cascading changes otherwise known as “planned work.” We learned that there’s logic, math, diagramming, trade-offs, and human sympathy behind each and every service notice, and a whole lot more:

L Project Weekly: To be perfectly honest Glenn, planned work can appear…well, all over the place. You’re telling us there is some method behind the madness?

Glenn Lunden: I’d call that an understatement. There is a lot of method. To use a game analogy, it’s chess not Twister. For every service change notice, we have to calculate many, many steps ahead for many, many variables.

LPW: What are the main factors that drive your planning?

GL: Basically, we are balancing two top priorities. First, we need to give workers access to the tracks to carry out construction and maintenance projects. In any given week, there will be dozens of such projects that need to get done, usually in a certain order. So our first priority is to get the maximum amount of work done during the time we access track. That involves crews, contracts, equipment, work trains. So that alone is a lot of planning, every week.

LPW: And the second priority?

GL: Our other number one priority is carrying our customers. At any given time, we have hundreds of trains running on 25 subway lines across 665 miles of service track. Every project triggers service changes. Those service changes trigger other service changes. It’s all connected. A service change on the L line can mean service changes on the J, M, or G lines. And again, we’re talking dozens and dozens and dozens of projects every week. So our team calculates how to schedule the maximum amount of work—or “wrench time,” as we say—with a minimum of service disruptions. We also need to ensure alternate options for customers to get around, like nearby subway lines or shuttle buses. And we do this not just on one line, like the L, but across the entire system, week after week, months in advance and sometimes even years in advance.

LPW:  Okay, our heads are hurting. How does your team even start?

GL: Better to say, we never stop. Every week, we assemble the subway's weekly General Order Service Plan. Right now, for example, I’m holding our “Service Plan A-50-01 Approved.” That’s for the week of December 16. It’s 100 pages, lighter than usual, because of the holidays. The usual weekly plan is up to 160 pages. Each page cites a project, with all the details. What work is being done? Which tracks are affected? Will power be off? Are platforms taped off?  Will shuttle buses be used? Lots of factors, lots of details.

LPW: Who does all this?

GL: The project input comes mainly from contractors and MTA managers, but really from many sources. Within my own rail planning unit, we have a team that forecasts and compiles the packages and then we have another group scheduling the
resulting changes into train timetables. Every Wednesday, we sit down with about 30 people from many different departments and go over the General Order Service Plans, line by line, six weeks before the work will take place. We have people from operations, maintenance of way, customer experience…

LPW: Customer experience, so that’s where all those posters come from?

GL: Digital and print posters, website schedules, social media, directional signs, on train and on platform announcements. Remember, before we can print even one of those weekend service posters, we need final sign-off on everything that goes into that week’s Service Plan. Everything, including writing revised timetables and a plan for the crews that go out and tape up the posters. It’s endless…actually, it’s about 3,400 schedule changes per year. That gives you some idea.

LPW: Back to those service change posters. It does seem like there are more than there used to be, or is that just our imaginations?

GL: No, you’re not imagining things. As I said, we balance the maximum wrench time against the fewest disruptions. But that balance can shift. Right now because of historical hold-ups, we face a backlog of necessary work. So we’ve had to dial up the project time. One major change was to start projects at 10 PM instead of midnight, as we used to. That was a big decision, huge. Systemwide, that means thousands of hours to get more work done. But it places a burden on nightshift workers or people who are out and about at night. We try our best, but it’s still the lowest ridership time, so overall, it has the least impact.

LPW: So even when the L Project is over, our other riders can expect lots of posters?

GL: Probably, but they can thank the L riders for one thing. When it comes to planning, we really upped our game on the L Project. We have learned how to piggyback and coordinate more projects into every time slot. And how to keep weekday service running even for a massive tunnel repair. The level of planning we worked out on the L line is our new model. 

LPW: Yes, we’ve looked at some of that project planning, and it’s pretty amazing.

GL: It is amazing. I’ve been working here a long time, and it still amazes me how the people in our department can sit down and turn all that project data into safe, reliable service plans across 25 subway lines, week after week. And it’s not just them. It’s the train crews, the people who put out the posters and messaging, the safety flagging crews on the tracks, so many people who really don’t get enough credit…

LPW: Good point, Glenn. Let’s hit the pause button, remove our hard hats, and give those people a moment of appreciation.

GL: It’s true, our service changes can look random. But really, it’s the opposite. Every poster describes a carefully thought-out plan to reroute, revise, and give riders the best service we can, while we rebuild their subway system. So much effort goes into it, I only wish we could credit everyone by name.

LPW: That’s a long scroll—we’ll have to save that for the highly-anticipated L Project: The Movie. (Kidding.)

It's a holiday miracle! Normal L service for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's

This is a big deal, so let's talk turkey. L trains will run on a normal holiday schedule on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Good gravy!

As you know, "holiday schedule" for any train line means a Sunday schedule. On the L, this means L trains will run as frequently as every 4 minutes at the busiest times. 

Here's what this will look like:
  • Thanksgiving: From 5 a.m. Wednesday morning to 10 p.m. Friday night, there will be normal L service. On Thanksgiving Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.
  • Christmas: From 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to 10 p.m. on December 26, there will be normal L service. On Christmas Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.
  • New Year's: From 5 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 10 p.m. on January 2, there will be normal L service. On New Year's Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule. 
P.S. The alternate service has one additional change as a result. On the actual holidays—Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day—the M will run its normal route, which is from Metropolitan Av to Delancey-Essex Sts (instead of extending up to 96 St-2 Av).

Trip planner: No more Union Square bypass and reminders

There are three things you need to know:
  1. The planned overnight bypass of Union Square from 11/19-11/20 is canceled! We've made so much progress on the project—all of the giant segments of the escalator are in—we don't need this extra time of full platform access. 
  2. The no L service at 6 Av and 8 Av on nights and weekends continues through Wednesday, 11/27. Check signs in station for last train information, as it will be between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. depending on where you are, and please use the M14 SBS instead.
  3. Continue using our shuttle buses between Broadway Junction and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs on weeknights after 10:15 p.m. Like #2 above, this service change will continue through Wednesday, 11/27.
Plan your trip →

Update: M14 A/D SBS bus boarding platforms

Good news: we made progress preparing to install the first bus boarding platform at the westbound 7 Av stop on 14th Street. Bad news: the weather was too cold which caused issues with the installation materials. 

That means we had to pause work at the first stop, and are back working as of yesterday. Pending weather, we are aiming to finish this first one on 11/19. Get the latest info here on which stops are closed and which are open:
Get the latest on bus boarding platform progress →

Glamour shot of the week: Team work

To properly install all of the various components that make up a track, it takes team work. Here, our crews work together to lay the new track ties (see the silver shiny things) and blocks.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / October 26, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 11/16/19

We're pushing forward on track work and FRP installation, among loads of other mini projects. Here's what we're working on:
  • Continue installing FRP infrastructure panels in several locations
  • Install cable racking system in three areas, and splice and strap in the new tunnel lighting cables and 2 mil positive cables
  • Install more conduit: lighting, receptacles and power for the Ave B substation; gap jumpers; lighting panels; customer information system, speakers and digital signs at 1 Av
  • Remove old pump room feeder conduits
  • Install new riser boxes and wire in one area
  • Continue new rail installation: weld negative rail; swap plates and ties; remove and install new contact rail pieces; chop for riser box; install contact rail
  • Test and splice new fiber optic cable
  • Install discharge line from the track level into the fan chamber
  • Install more new tile: platform wall tiles at 1 Av and trackwall tiles at Bedford Av

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 23, 2019 2:09 PM
Hello. New York City Transit brings together people from all walks of life. But there's one thing we all have in common: we're making the city a little more environmentally friendly with every subway or bus ride. And with the L Project, the L is getting even greener. Read on to find out more about one initiative we're doing at the same time as the tunnel rehab.

Plus: Brooklyn weeknight service is back early; the first fully finished stair for the project is here; and don't forget about normal L service on Thanksgiving (and the night before).

Speaking of which, we're giving thanks for you this Thanksgiving! We started this little newsletter almost a year ago, and we couldn't have grown it to be what it is today without your support. Thanks to you for staying informed about the project and helping your friends and family do the same.
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Out with the bulbs, in with the wireless LEDs. L train riders, meet the new, super energy-efficient and wireless lighting bringing more shine and less grime to your commute. 

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / September 9, 2019

How the L Project is helping make New York City cleaner and greener

Did you know, we New Yorkers have the lowest carbon emissions per capita among all 50 states. That’s thanks to you, transit customers! By using subways, buses, and trains instead of cars, we avoid about 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) per year.  

But we don’t stop there! In fact, the MTA has hundreds of ongoing carbon-reduction and energy efficiency projects, from green roofs and solar panels to all-electric buses. And yes, we have some green initiatives in the L tunnel, thanks to our partners at NYSERDA (that’s “NY State Energy Research and Development Authority”). We talked to NYSERDA project manager Richard Mai about how they got involved.

L Project Weekly: So, Richard, you and the team at NYSERDA are always looking for new ways to boost energy efficiency. What was it about the L Project that made you think, now here’s a good opportunity to cut energy use?

Richard Mai: Basically, we knew there would be lots of new tunnel lighting. It's almost too big a number to believe, but New York City Transit consumes about 242,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year just for lighting. That’s a lot of light. So wherever they are replacing a chunk of that, there’s a good opportunity for long-term savings. That's where we came in.

LPW: What exactly is the project?

RM: Our innovation group works to support Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals by increasing the use of energy-efficient lighting. This project is a wireless lighting system from a vendor called Clear-Vu. It’s very new and includes three main elements. First, the bulbs are one of the most energy-efficient LEDs in existence; they last longer, reducing material waste. Second, each light has backup batteries attached to them which gives the bulbs four-hours of back-up power. Third, they each have a wireless chip, which sends information about whether that light is working or is due for maintenance. That increases efficiency at many levels, especially labor.
LPW: Sounds like we're not just cutting energy, we're also cutting maintenance disruptions. Is that right?

RM: Exactly. Right now, maintenance crews inspect the lighting manually. Now they will only have to go out when the system reports an issue. And they'll do it faster, because they'll already know exactly which light is out. Each light takes only about 5 minutes to swap out. So, fewer disruptions.

LPW: Efficient for our crews and the environment. So, you say this is all pretty new?

RM: It is. We're installing 2,700 total units for the L Project, between the tunnel and the two stations, Bedford Av and 1 Av. We believe this is one of—if not the—largest deployment of wireless lighting in the United States transportation market. We’ve also installed this wireless lighting in the Joralemon Tunnel, which takes the 4 and 5 trains between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

LPW: As an aside to our readers, this is just one of the ways the MTA is doubling down on environmental initiatives lately. We’re also joining other public entities that are signing on to the U.N. Climate Agreement.

RM: Yes, the MTA has far too many energy-efficiency projects to discuss here. But let me mention just one that NYSERDA is involved in that’s really interesting, aside from tunnel lighting. Right now, the subway trains expend energy every time they have to brake at a station. The brakes give off heat, millions of times a week. We are actually looking at ways to recapture and “push” that energy to trains that need it to accelerate out of the stations. Overall, this would help us shave peak demand for energy across the city.

LPW: Lots of opportunity for making our great city a little greener. Good to see our transportation system taking the lead, and setting a national example, no less. Here's to more projects with less customer disruptions and more energy efficiency!

Trip planner: No more Brooklyn shuttle bus, normal L service for Turkey Day and Turkey Day Eve

Three things you need to know if you're taking the L next week:
  1. We finished the Brooklyn work early! Back to the every-10-minute L train in Brooklyn next week, including between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs and Broadway Junction, where we've been working. 
  2. Last few days of no L service at 6 Av and 8 Av on nights through Wednesday, 11/27. Check signs in station for last train information, as it will be between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. depending on where you are, and please use the M14 SBS instead.
  3. Normal L service on Thanksgiving and the night before. From 5 a.m. Wednesday morning to 10 p.m. Friday night, there will be normal L service. On Thanksgiving Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule, which means trains come about every 4 minutes during the busiest times. Also note that on Thanksgiving Day, the M will run its normal route, which is from Metropolitan Av to Delancey-Essex Sts (instead of extending up to 96 St-2 Av).
Plan your trip →

First staircase with final finishes opens at Bedford Av

 About a week ahead of schedule, we reopened one of the platform to mezzanine stairs (the new one) yesterday. But this isn't just any stair opening—this is the very first one for the L Project with the final finishes!

This includes:
  • Stainless steel handrails
  • Metal mesh and powder-coated steel guardrails
  • New tile, including replica mosaic 
We'll be leaving both of these stairs open until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Starting on Monday, 12/2, the other stair next to it will close, so we can install the final finishes there, too. That other stair will be finished and opened by the end of December. 

Saving the environment (and your Thanksgiving conversation)

Looking for safe subjects to discuss over the Thanksgiving dinner table? Everyone has a subway story. And now you have a subway sustainability story. Here are 5 fun facts about subway and bus sustainability to wow your friends and family: 

1 In September, our portfolio of 75 ongoing energy-efficiency projects (the most of any state agency) won the NY Power Authority’s “EO88 Award” for our “outstanding tenacity and dogged resolve toward reducing energy consumption.”

2 As of March, we had completed 168 energy-efficiency projects, for annual savings of 208 million kWh; 282,000 kW; 299,000 gallons of fuel; and 1.6 million therms of natural gas.

3 On Earth Day, we issued an RFP for the development of solar power on over half a million square feet of MTA roof space and commuter parking lots, a huge new energy frontier. Proposals now being reviewed could generate 6.5 megawatts of emissions-free energy. 

In January, we inked contracts for 15 all-electric buses (AEBs) and 16 in-depot chargers, and committed to a zero-emissions AEB bus fleet by 2040. Our new Capital Plan proposes funding for 500 AEBs by 2024, with only AEBs purchased after 2024.

Throughout the year, we continued our “carbon accounting” by reporting emissions to The Climate Registry, of which the MTA is a founding member. Earlier this month we officially signed on to the U.N’s Science-Based Targets initiative to reduce our emissions in line with the Paris Accords.

But the big news is hidden in plain sight. The MTA transit system itself avoids about 17 million metric tons of GHGs annually through “carbon avoidance.” What does that mean? It means we provide transportation that would mean 19 million tons of GHG from auto tailpipes, while generating only 2 million tons of GHG, a savings of 17 million tons! Year after year.

2 down, 1 in progress, 4 more to go

 We've made more progress on the bus boarding platforms for the M14 A/D SBS route on 14th Street. Here's where we are now:

✔️7 Av westbound
✔️5 Av westbound
Irving Place westbound

Continue to get the latest status on our progress here:
Get the latest on bus boarding platform progress →

Glamour shot of the week: New rails, 50% done (including smoothing them out, as seen here)

Have you taken the L lately from Manhattan to Brooklyn? At the halfway mark, before you get to Bedford Av Station, there are less bumps in the ride. That's because we're halfway done installing the new track in the second tube. This weekend, we'll start on the other half, working from 1 Av Station toward to middle of the tube.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / October 26, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 11/23/19

We're starting the other half of the track work and continuing the structural FRP panel installation. Here are the main projects we're working on this week:
  • Continue installing FRP panels in several locations
  • Finish pouring the concrete for the ADA-compliant ramp at 1 Av platform
  • Chop out and install arch bars for conduit; and install conduit for lighting, receptacles at the Ave B substation
  • Waterproof within the circuit breaker house near the Brooklyn side
  • Install the new door and hardware at the tunnel lighting room
  • Install cable racking system in two areas, and splice and strap in the new tunnel lighting cables
  • Install the 2 mil crossover and pull in the 2 mil positive cables 
  • Continue installing new riser boxes and wire
  • Install new fire alarm cables at the platform and mezzanine at Bedford Av
  • Install new conduit for speakers and digital signs at 1 Av
  • Continue new rail installation: weld rail; swap plates and ties; remove and replace old ties; remove and install new contact rail pieces; chop for riser box; install contact rail
  • Continue testing and splicing new fiber optic cable
  • Install discharge line from the pump room to Ave D
  • Install more new tile at Bedford Av

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:22 AM
Hi. Short week. But it's not called the "L Project Whenever We Feel Like It." No, this is the L Project Weekly. We'll focus on the big stuff so you can get back to holiday merriment. 

Read on for: What's the status of that Union Square escalator?; Did that flooded station entrance have anything to do with post-Superstorm Sandy-strategy? (hint: yes); L train service change tips.
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Yes we purposefully flooded that station entrance. Yes it is a project inspired by Superstorm Sandy.

Did you see your fellow customers' photo of what looked to be a flooded entrance? It started as a simple Twitter question and turned into a super important discussion about resilience and climate change, and how we're tackling it head-on.

Long-time readers might recall that we've already covered this in great detail back in L Project Weekly #6 (see "ICYMI: The L is already better prepared for future storms"). But let's do a quick refresher. We tapped the same resilience expert, Steven Loehr, our Recovery and Resiliency Manager.

L Project Weekly: So what exactly was in that viral photo? 

Steven Loehr: What the customer really saw was an exercise to test a new “flex gate,” one of the many protective measures we’ve put in place to ensure our system can withstand a massive storm. Yes, a la Superstorm Sandy.

LPW: What's a "flex gate"? 

SL: Flex gates are among the many protective measures we’ve invested in as part of our recovery and resiliency efforts after Superstorm Sandy. They are installed at the top of station stairways and, in advance of a storm, can be unspooled similar to a roll-out swimming pool cover (except unlike a pool, we want all the water to stay above the flex gate, not below!). Every unit must be custom-sized to fit each stair entrance. While they may look like ordinary plastic tarps, they’re actually made of Kevlar, a lightweight and high-strength synthetic material that’s used for body armor and other protective equipment, sports equipment, vehicles and numerous other uses. The flex gates were designed by the same manufacturer that designed and built spacesuits for NASA.

LPW: What are the benefits?
SL: They can be easily and rapidly deployed (in just a few minutes), they are non-intrusive and are stored within a special enclosure at the station entrance. And, perhaps most importantly, they can withstand up to 14 feet of water.

LPW: How far along is New York City Transit in installing them?

SL: NYCT has 111 stairways in Category 1 or 2 flood zones at 30 different underground stations. Seventy-two of these stairways will receive flex gates. Others receive marine doors or flood logs, which are other solutions to the same problem. There are 53 flex gates already installed in these flood-vulnerable areas. Retrofitting a stairway with flood protection requires closing it for several weeks, so we’ve been carefully phasing our work to minimize impacts on customers. As flex gates are installed, they are “wet tested” to measure for potential leakage and ensure proper fit, quality, and installation. And that’s precisely what our observant customer spotted in action.

LPW: Well...did the station in the photo pass?

SL: Yes! This Brooklyn station in the photo passed the test.

LPW: So will our readers see any "intentional flooding" at their local L station?

SL: We're focused on what is known as the Category 2 flood zones. Interestingly enough, neither 1 Av or Bedford Av has an entrance in that category. But because Williamsburg is a hill, Lorimer St is at a lower elevation than Bedford Av, so we have done more mitigation along that area. But none requiring this kind of flood test.

Thanks, Steven! And thanks to ^JLP and our Digital Communications Unit for keeping our customers informed about all the improvements we’re making in our system, L Project and beyond.

Trip planner: Normal L service returns to 8 Av and 6 Av stations

Until 2020, all L stations are back to having service. And in the meantime, you'll get this same normal L service we ran for Thanksgiving for Christmas and New Year's, too. 

We're working to coordinate our project schedules now, and we'll share updated information for 2020 soon. Reminder: yes, this includes a full track L closure at some point, so we can finish connecting the power for the three new substations.
Plan your trip →

Behind the barricade: What's going on at the Union Square escalator?

 We checked in with our project team lead, Bharat Kothari, to get the latest on what's behind the barricade:

Where are we with the progress?
All of the six pieces of the escalator have been delivered and are placed in position. We were able to even cancel one of the overnight bypasses we had scheduled, because the deliveries went even better than expected.

What's going on behind the barricades now?
Inspections. We work with the contractors who know the escalator engineering to check on it throughout the project. This way we can make quality adjustments as we go. 

What are the next steps and are things on schedule for that Spring 2020 completion?
We're doing electrical work in the escalator machine room. This is to make sure that once the escalator is ready, we can hook it up to power and have it up-and-running for customers ASAP. And yes, the project is on track for a Spring 2020 completion.

4 down, 1 in progress, 2 more to go

 Our M14 A/D SBS buses are rolling and so is the construction for the new bus boarding platforms along 14th Street. Here's where we are now:

✔️7 Av westbound
✔️5 Av westbound
✔️Irving Place westbound
✔️ 8 Av westbound
University Place eastbound
6 Av westbound
8 Av eastbound

Continue to get the latest status on our progress here:
Get the latest on bus boarding platform progress →

Glamour shot of the week: Rooftop views, accessibility edition

Going (way) up. We spent some time on Brooklyn rooftops so you could get a better view of our progress. Here is the northeast corner of N 7 and Bedford Ave where we are installing a new stairway and elevator, which will make the Bedford Av Station accessible and fully ADA-compliant. 
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / November 22, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 11/30/19

We were off Wednesday and Thursday, so we're making up for it with a big push this week ahead. Here's what we're doing:
  • Continue installing new conduit: fire alarm and lighting conduit at Bedford Av; lighting and receptacles at 1 Av; equipment at Avenue B substation; transponders in one zone
  • Install the racking system near the Avenue D fan plant
  • Continue working on the trackwall tile and painting at Bedford Av
  • Install new fire alarm horn and emergency strobe lighting at Bedford Av
  • Install negative jumper cables
  • Install riser boxes and wire in two areas
  • Install brackets and splice and strap new tunnel lighting cables from Avenue D to the pump room
  • Continue new rail installation: weld rail in two locations; swap plates and ties from 1st Avenue to Avenue D; remove and install new contact rail pieces from 1st Avenue to Avenue D; chop for riser boxes; chop for two 3rd rail ties for the end approaches; install 84C contact rail
  • Install discharge pipe from the pump room to Avenue D and in the pump room
  • Install more new tile at Bedford Av

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 7, 2019 10:36 PM
Hello there. This is #52. Cue the confetti—happy 1 year anniversary of subway smarts, especially to the 1,552 OG subscribers! We're celebrating something else this week, too: December 4 was World Tunnel Day. Yes it's an actual day, and yes we'll explain what it's all about, including tips on how to celebrate.

Plus: How are those bus boarding platforms going?; Why are L trains running every 12 minutes on parts of the line during the weekdays?; Holiday L service reminders; More construction progress.
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Our very own 14th Street Tunnel. Happy World Tunnel Day!

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / November 18, 2019

How to celebrate World Tunnel Day

New or old, tunnels of all kinds require mighty feats of engineering, strict safety practices, from Saint Barbara? 

The legend goes that Barbara, a woman who lived in the third century near today’s Istanbul, Turkey, was kept in hiding by her super-rich dad. One day, she escaped, but her dad reported her to the authorities. To avoid being found, she sought refuge with silver miners in Greece, who let her live in the mine shafts. 

Unfortunately, the story doesn't have a happy ending (she was allegedly decapitated for maintaining her Christianity). But her tale inspired tunnel-working folk. The Christian church at the time declared her a saint, and miners declared her saint day—December 4—as a day to honor their profession.

Today, it's observed worldwide as World Tunnel Day. The British Tunnelling Society took to Twitter to celebrate great tunnelers (sorry "tunnellers" in the UK) and their achievements. In the U.S., Seattle's U-Link project team paused to reflect on their safety practices. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Deep Rock Tunnel project team reminded local communities that their most important asset is a tunnel boring machine named MamaJo

Having tunnel FOMO? We got you. Here are three ways to celebrate:

1. Take a subway through one of our 14 New York City Transit underwater tunnels.
Ride an N, R or W train through the Montague Tunnel, which also got a rehab after Superstorm Sandy. Visit the Joralemon Tunnel (originally the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel), which was the subways' first under-river tunnel and is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And of course, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the 14th Street Tunnel AKA the Canarsie Tunnel AKA the L tunnel. 

2. Expand your worldview and scope out some global tunnels, all without leaving the comfort of your mobile device. Thanks to the British Tunnelling Society, the #WorldTunnelDay hashtag really took off this year. Check it out on Twitter to see these groundbreaking beauties.

3. Say thank you to one of our team members. From the engineers installing the new FRP infrastructure panels in the L tunnel, to the train operators who navigate all of our tunnels, our crews know tunnels—and how to keep you safe while you're in them. Tell them how much you dig what they're doing.

Trip planner: The L gets in the giving spirit for the holidays

How is it December already?! If you're looking ahead a few weeks like we are, here's what you need to know about the upcoming special L schedule around the holidays:
  • Christmas: From 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to 10 p.m. on December 26, there will be normal L service. On Christmas Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.
  • New Year's: From 5 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 10 p.m. on January 2, there will be normal L service. On New Year's Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule. 
And don't forget about what this means for the M train. On the actual holidays—Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day—the M will run its normal route, which is from Metropolitan Av to Delancey-Essex Sts (instead of extending up to 96 St-2 Av).

Bus boarding platforms: 5 down, 1 in progress, 1 more to go

Installing a bus boarding platform is more than just snapping together and drilling in the pieces. Here, a representative from Zicla (the company that makes the platforms) is using a computerized slope-measuring device. We have to create a specific surface level for the platforms to be installed correctly. 

Photo: MTA New York City Transit / December 4, 2019
As of yesterday morning, we completed another bus boarding platform, at University Place, eastbound. Now we're on to 6 Av, westbound. Weather willing, we're on schedule to finish this month as promised. 

Here's what's done and what's to come:

✔️7 Av westbound
✔️5 Av westbound
✔️Irving Place westbound
✔️ 8 Av westbound
✔️University Place eastbound
6 Av westbound
8 Av eastbound

Continue to get the latest status on our progress here:
Get the latest on bus boarding platform progress →

Customer question of the week

Q : How come the L train has been running on a severely reduced schedule during the week between 10am-11am?

A: Remember when we said that part of the L Project is building three new power substations?

The substations mean we can run more L trains. That means we need more L train operators. And that means more operators need to be trained for the L's CBTC (communications-based train control) system.

As part of that training, operators have to drive actual trains on the actual CBTC line. They can’t do it in a train yard. And until they’re fully up to speed (pun intended), they obviously can’t have riders onboard.  
So we do this training at the times when we have low ridership. We keep service going, but with reduced frequency. You said 10am to 11am. The reduction is actually from 11am to 3pm weekdays, from Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs to Rockaway Pkway.

There will be one more of these training periods in 2019. Same times, same stretch of track, same 12-minute frequencies, from Dec. 16 to Dec. 20. During those periods, the last stop for every other train from Manhattan will be Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs, with trains beyond that station again at 12-minute intervals.

Hot tip: We keep our website updated in real-time with these kinds of planned projects. Check out the subways page here.
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Glamour shot of the week: Rack 'em up

If you've been reading our weekly "Construction look-ahead" feature (see below), you've likely noticed that we talk about cables a lot. As in, there are a lot of cables. Here, our crews are pulling 2kcmil positive feeder cables from a circuit breaker house to the Q1 track and temporarily securing them. The next step (not pictured) is to secure them with something called "cleats," which are basically mini cable management systems to hold cables in place.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / November 18, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 12/7/2019

Like we said: lots of conduit work. We're also making progress underground at the new Avenue B substation. Here's our schedule of work for the week ahead:
  • Continue installing new conduit: fire alarm and HVAC in the employee room at 1 Av Station; tunnel lighting; Avenue B substation
  • Install more of the racking system, between the pump room to N 7th St, and splice and strap the new tunnel lighting cables
  • Test communications cables and terminate as needed
  • Replace tube shell wires at the N 7th fan plant
  • Work on the track cases
  • Install new positive gap jumpers and replace negative cables
  • Working from 1 Av towards to tunnel, swap plates and ties, remove and install new contact rail pieces, weld rail and install clips
  • Install insulation at N 7th St 
  • Install more of the new discharge piping in the pump room and remove the old system
  • Work on the new platform wall tile and tactile strips at 1 Av Station

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 9:58 PM

If the 14th stree new signaling system is the same as the  #7 then there may be pproblems in the future?  #7 had line shut down by snow !


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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, December 12, 2019 4:14 AM

Apparently, your own posting had the answer for you.   You possibly posted it without reading it thoroughly?

Byford insisted the problem was with Thales’ product and not the tech itself, because a CBTC system installed by Siemens on the L line has “worked flawlessly.”


Wednesday wasn’t the first time Thales’ system on the 7 line has been interrupted by snow gumming up its transponders — it was also shut down Dec. 2, he said.


Byford said Thales has known about the problem since March, but has failed to fix it.


The company has begun putting covers on the 498 transponders that are out in the open, but Byford said that work isn’t been done fast enough. Eighty were covered after the Dec. 2 malfunction, and 40 more after Wednesday’s mishap, the MTA said.


“This failure is wholly inexcusable and constitutes a woeful inability on the part of Thales to address a known issue within an acceptable timeframe,” Byford wrote in a terse letter to Thales executive vice president of ground transportation Millar Crawford.


He said he also met Wednesday with Gregoire Sulmont, head of Thales’ New York operations, for “an extremely robust meeting where it was made crystal clear to him that this situation has to be resolved.”


A Thales spokesperson said in an email Wednesday that the company was “deeply sorry for the impact this problem has had on New Yorkers.”


“All our teams are fully resourced, mobilized and committed to deliver and deploy the solution as quickly as possible,” the statement said.



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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 14, 2019 12:41 PM
Hi there. We received even more feedback on the past two issues than usual. Most of you said you simply wanted to let us know how much you enjoy the newsletter. We're collectively blushing. So this is our shameless ask to please tell your friends and family to subscribe, too. Just give them this link. What a nice and cost-effective holiday gift!

Back to this issue. Over the last year, we’ve looked at underground cables, pumps and shafts. This week, we’re looking up and around—at the art of the L. First station on the tour: one that you M-train-is-a-great-alternative-to-the-L heroes might know better than you used to—Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs. Plus, we answer a customer question about those "hills" on subway platforms. Have a merry weekend.
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Did you know that there are nine permanent art installations on the L line? Just $2.75/person admission. Good art, good deal. 

Photo: MTA Arts & Design

Lead your own subway art tour: Stop #1, Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs Station

The original Rapid Transit Commission Contract of 1900 declared: “where exposed to public sight shall therefore be designed, constructed, and maintained, with a view to the beauty of their appearance, as well as their efficiency.

More than a century later, we stand by that credo. As MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth told us, “It is vitally important that the artwork speaks directly to those it’s created for: the people who use the station, and those who live and work in the neighborhood.”

The L line has some of the best examples of public art in our system. So whether you’ve casually wondered, “what’s the deal with all these colored tiles?” (ahem, “mosaics”), or if you’re looking for a fun holiday activity for the whole family, we’ve got you covered. And since it’s been extra busy with all of you M train converts, we’ll start this tour at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs Station in Brooklyn.

When you’re passing through the station’s rotunda, stop and look up. Above this busy transfer point is a 2006 installation by artist Cadence Giersbach called From Earth to Sky.

Here are the five key facts you need to know about the piece:

1. The artwork is intended to create the illusion of a natural canopy above. It creates a blue and pink sky, complete with treetops, birds, butterflies and clouds.

2. The artwork uses a mix of different materials to achieve the illusion, which succeeds in part because of how it reflects light. The main materials used are glass, marble and porcelain. It was installed by a firm called Mosaik.

3.  It scales a space that is approximately 36 ft. x 28 ft.

4.  Look closely at the dome’s central “oculus.” The view is inverted; you're looking at an artistic birds-eye map view of the city. The reversed image is centered on the location of where you’re standing, surrounded by the rest of the far-stretching city.

5.  This is one of nine permanent artworks currently gracing the L line.

Want to extend your tour? Check out the other L line art, along with the more than 300 installations we have throughout the system on our MTA Arts & Design website.

So yes, there’s more to L line infrastructure than tracks, tunnels, and substations. There are purpose-built interludes of beauty and serenity, too.


ICYMI: Regular L service during the holidays

Don't forget: we're taking a break from L Project work for a few days during the holidays, which means regular L service for you. Here's the rundown:

L train
  • Christmas: From 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to 10 p.m. on December 26, there will be normal L service. On Christmas Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.
  • New Year's: From 5 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 10 p.m. on January 2, there will be normal L service. On New Year's Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule. 
M train
  • On the actual holidays (Christmas Day, New Year's Day), the M will run its normal route, from Metropolitan Av to Delancey-Essex Sts (instead of extending up to 96 St-2 Av).

Bus boarding platforms: Done (for now!)

 Despite a few weather delays, we finished all of the bus boarding platforms along 14th Street on time. Hooray!

Sometime next week, we will be going back to the 7th Ave westbound  M14 stop. After our colleagues at NYC DOT inspected it, we decided it would better for you if we make the platform longer, extending it by an additional 55 feet. So that's what we're going to do.

We're planning to start work early next week. We'll send notifications via Twitter and on our website (click the button below) once that construction schedule is set.
Get the latest on bus boarding platform progress →

Customer question of the week

Q : Why is there a “hill” if you will, at the middle of the platform of the L train stations? I’ve noticed that they’re being added while the stations are being remodeled. - Silvia P.

A: Great looking out. This is one of the many elements we design and install at a station to meet ADA guidelines. So yes, getting a station to full accessibility is about a lot more than just elevators! We checked in with Rachel Cohen from our Systemwide Accessibility team at MTA New York City Transit to get the details:

"Under the ADA, we are required to align the train car and the platform at accessible stations to minimize any horizontal or vertical gaps between the platform and the train car. This helps to make it easier for customers who use mobility devices to enter or exit the train. In our system, we create an accessible boarding area and work to ensure that, in this area, there is no more than a 2-inch vertical gap under certain loading conditions or a 4-inch horizontal gap between the edge of the train and the platform. Because many of our trains ride higher than the platform, we raise the platform in this accessible boarding area at most stations to minimize the gap. This is the 'hill' you're seeing!

"The raised part is usually located around the conductor at the center of the train, giving customers access to two different doors from the raised platform. Each station is different though, so you won't see these raised platforms everywhere. At some stations, the train does pull in even with the platform, so no raised platform is needed."
Ask us a question →

Glamour shot of the week: Now these are the kinds of "cars" we like

We've made a lot of progress on those holes in the ground, i.e. future elevators. Here you see the makings of the "cab" or "car" of one of the two new elevators at 1 Av Station. These are slated to open several months ahead of schedule, in June 2020.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / December 7, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 12/14/2019

More conduits, more tile. Here's what we’re up to in the week ahead:
  • Continue installing the structural FRP panels near the North 7th fan plant
  • Re-secure the radio signal cases near the North 7th fan plant
  • Continue installing conduit and wire at the new circuit breaker house near 1st Ave; the existing circuit breaker house and the new Avenue B substation
  • Install riser boxes and wire by the Avenue D fan plant
  • Put in new fire alarm devices and wire at the Bedford Av platform
  • Install feeder cables near 1st Ave
  • Continue working on the track cases
  • Continue installing and securing the 2mil negative and positive feeder cable along Bedford Ave and the tunnel lighting cables from Bedford Ave to North 7th St
  • Working from 1 Av towards to tunnel, swap plates and ties, remove and install new contact rail pieces, weld rail and install temporary 3rd rail gap jumper cables
  • Install more of the new support brackets and discharge piping in the pump room and Avenue D fan plant
  • Progress the new platform wall tile at 1 Av Station

Stay connected

Learn mo
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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 21, 2019 4:50 PM
Hello, and happy holidays. A time for giving, reflection, and brushing up on those communications skills for conversations with Uncle Frank and Grandma Louise. Here at the MTA, we had our own communications challenge back on that momentous April day the L Project started: bring together all of the real-time happenings around the system so hundreds of MTA staffers across dozens of teams and locations could keep all of you moving and safe. The answer turned out to be a Slack channel: #canarsiecoordinator. Get the behind the scenes scoop on how it saved the day, and continues to be the backbone of our operations.

And happy holidays if you're celebrating. Your next weekly newsletter will be in 2020—see you then, and have a festive weekend.
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What day one of the L Project looked like on #canarsiecoordinator. Today, we have 422 employees using the Slack channel to make sure you have the most accurate information and seamless L train operation possible (and lots more using it for other projects, too).

Photo: MTA NYCT Strategy & Customer Experience.

How Slack keeps the L Project on track

If you read any of the news stories leading up to the start of the L Project, you probably noticed one common question: "There are so many moving parts; how can the MTA actually make this complicated operation work?"

As you L train experts know, we did make it work, and have continued to do so for 240 days (not that we're counting). But beyond the meticulous train scheduling and work train testing and employee customer service sessions, there's one thing we did that we haven't told you about yet: how in the world did we share information across the hundreds of employees involved so they could take action on it—and in real-time?

To get the unfiltered version of how everything went down, we called up John Hoban, Platform Controller Line Superintendent, and Tom Calandrella, General Superintendent for Capital Projects. 

L Project Weekly: We have a complicated system with complicated things happening all the time. Why was the L Project any different?

Tom Calandrella: For me in the Rail Control Center (RCC), I've never seen a train operation that has to be so precise to work. I'm talking about the way the L is running on one track. One small error would cause massive ripple effects, and ripples turn into waves. We ran a bunch of scenarios to prepare for it. It was tough. Our staff would have to know those things in real-time, and have enough information so they could make real-time decisions too.

LPW: I've seen people using those rugged phones or click-to-talk devices for these kinds of in-the-field situations. Did we consider that?

John Hoban: Yes. In fact, that was the first option that was discussed. Our field staff including my team had used them in the past, so it made sense. The plan was to call into the RCC to report something from the field. Then, the RCC would translate all of that into actionable information, and post on Slack as a record. It would also be how the communications folks who manage our Twitter support account to get and share updates. 

LPW: So we were already using Slack?

TC: Our communications teams have been using Slack for a few years now. This is how we give customers the most relevant and timely information possible. We also use it for things like major events, for example, snow storms. We have a model we call the "incident command center," and we create channels for each incident or event on Slack. It brings everyone from all departments to the proverbial table instantly. 

LPW: So mobile phones and Slack. But of course, we know things are different once you get into the real-life scenario. So what happened that first weekend?

TC: We had our process down, but by the time the end of the Saturday shift rolled around, we had converted most people to just using Slack. Less than 48 hours. Talk about rapid user adoption!

LPW: Wow. What do you think changed people's minds, and that fast? 

JH: There was a very brief incident at one point where we lost power in the tunnel. The RCC had to tell us what was going on for a change, because they're the ones that can see where the trains are. Everyone wanted to be in the know so they could tell the customers standing next to them. A one-to-one phone can't do that. 

TC: I think it came down to human nature. We all were proud of the work we were doing, and we wanted to share that with each other. People didn't want to miss out. Stations staff were posting photos of signs that needed to be fixed and marketing was instantly jumping on it. Fare machines were reported as down and someone from our Automated Fare Control team took action. And of course, we couldn't have figured out the Great Countdown Clock Saga* without the field reporting and photos from our staff. 

LPW: Anything happen as a result of Slack that you didn't expect?

TC: The channel became a way for the very large and diverse MTA team to root each other on. We have 422 people on it. People who have never met could put faces to names. There were posts sharing tips on things that worked, and responses like "You're the best!" and the flexing muscle emoji. I honestly think it fundamentally shifted the culture of Transit in such a positive way. It broke down every silo.

JH: Even Andy [Byford] was on it, posting his own operational reports and cheering the team on. Always helps when it's a whole team effort, top to bottom.

LPW: Sounds like a real case study in good communications and teamwork! What's next for Slack?

TC: My personal favorite is the #getitfixed channel. The channel topic says it best: "we’re all working together to keep our system in tip-top shape. so: see something dirty, broken, crowded, or missing (signage, platform taping)? let us know and we’ll try to find the person who can fix it!" From countdown clocks to vomit, which happens more than you'd probably think, we have eyes and ears out in the field, reporting things back to the RCC, who then hunt down the right person to handle it.

JH: Yeah, the L Project has become a real model for how we communicate across teams, and Slack was a part of it. Now we're all using it across a variety of situations.

LPW: Thanks, team! Sounds like we made good strides while making good memories.

*If you're not familiar, many things went right about that first weekend of the L Project, but the countdown clocks were not one of them. We even created a separate Slack channel to triage and eventually solve the conundrum. 

Don't forget: Regular L service during the holidays

In case you missed it last week, here's what you can expect around the holidays with the regular L service:

L train
  • Christmas: From 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to 10 p.m. on December 26, there will be normal L service. On Christmas Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.
  • New Year's: From 5 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 10 p.m. on January 2, there will be normal L service. On New Year's Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule. 
M train
  • On the actual holidays (Christmas Day, New Year's Day), the M will run its normal route, from Metropolitan Av to Delancey-Essex Sts (instead of extending up to 96 St-2 Av).

We raced the L train and M14 SBS. Here’s what happened. 

 What comes every 3-5 minutes during busy times on nights and weekends, is moving 30-40% faster than before, and gets you all the way across 14th St in Manhattan? 

Well, as you know, it can't be the L train. It must be the M14 SBS with DOT's Truck & Transit Priority!

That's right, if you haven't heard, the M14 SBS is moving faster than ever, making it a great alternative to the L train, for those of you who are using the L to travel just in Manhattan.

And we know lots of you are. We do checks every now and then on how crowded the trains and platforms are. Lately, we've noticed an uptick in folks getting on the L in Manhattan...and off in Manhattan. This is causing customers at Union Square and 3 Av Stations to miss the Brooklyn-bound train.

But even if you're not in the holiday giving spirit, you should take the bus for selfish reasons. We ran the numbers and here’s what happened (based on L train and M14 SBS information at 10 p.m. going between 1 Av and 8 Av on an average weeknight):

Average frequency:
M14 SBS: Every 4 minutes
L train: Every 20 minutes

Average runtime:
M14 SBS: 11 minutes
L train: 12 minutes (remember we have to hold the trains at Union Square as we head into that single-track zone!)

Bus wins! You want to be associated with winners, right? Then take the bus, please.

Glamour shot of the week: Track work is 75% done

We're already more than 75% done with track work in the second tube. This includes replacing all of the track ties (the silver things in the photo are the new ones), tie blocks and rails.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / December 7, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 12/21/2019

We're making quick progress on the structural FRP panels, and the track work as mentioned above. Here's our to-do list this week:
  • Continue installing the structural FRP panels near the pump room
  • Continue installing wire for transponders, and remove and replace the old transponders
  • Install conduit and wire at the new substation at Avenue B
  • Install new fire alarm cable at Bedford Av Station mezzanine, Driggs Ave side 
  • Continue installing conduit and wire at the circuit breaker house
  • Put in new tunnel lighting fixtures and brackets
  • Install fiber distribution panel and console cabinet at the N 7th fan plant
  • Install riser boxes and wire by the Avenue D fan plant
  • Put in new fire alarm devices and wire at the Bedford Av platform
  • Replace plates and tiles, remove and install new contact rail accessories, install new contact rail and weld rail in two areas
  • Install more of the new support brackets and discharge piping from Bedford Av Station to the pump room

Stay connected

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, January 4, 2020 10:30 AM
Hello to you and 2020! Have you read any "2019 year-in-review" stories? The L Project made a few of them. But what actually happened in the seven months and four days of 2019 since the L Project commenced? We compiled our spreadsheets and ran the numbers. Your "L Project 2019 Year in Review" is below.

Also, you may have taken the M14 SBS, but have you tried an electric M14 SBS yet?; minor changes to G service between midnight and 1:30 a.m. for a week, and our construction look-ahead for the week. Stay dry out there.
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2019 on the L was .

Photo: Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / December 7, 2019

By the numbers: L Project in 2019

It's a new year and it's been a while since we provided a one-stop-shop progress rundown on how we're doing. So let's do it!

But before we jump into those numbers, here's the real number that counts: 400,000. That's how many of you use the L line every day in NYC, and how many of you worked in collaboration with us to make this project go as smoothly as it has. Take a bow!

So, what exactly did happen in 2019 on the L Project? We count it up.

L Project: 2019 by the numbers

New station entrances opened3 (two at Bedford Av, one at 1 Av (another one was opened at Bedford Av, too, but it was in 2018)

Cable racks installed14,220 linear feet (yes, we're done in both tubes)

Cables installed on the racks (communications, radio antenna, pump power and control, and fiber optic): 59,550 linear feet

Additional cables installed (tunnel lighting conduit, sound power telephone, antenna conduit and tunnel receptacle power): 45,855 linear feet

Continuous welded rail track installed12,170 linear feet (just 440 to go in the second tube!)

New discharge pipe installed4,930 linear feet (only 1,900 to go until we're done with both tubes!)

Fiber optic monitoring system installed7,000 linear feet

Emergency work on G train third rail = no extra G service between midnight and 1:30 a.m. for a week

 Our crews were doing their regular track inspections, and found that part of the system that runs the G line's third rail needs repairs ASAP. The work will happen overnight on the weeknights for the week of Monday, January 13.

We'll be doing the work overnight so G service can continue at normal headways...except for the special extra trains we've been running to give you 7-to-the-G train riders a better alternative during the L Project. Again, G trains will still come, but here are two quick tips:
  • The impacted time is just between midnight and 1:30 a.m. So if you're traveling then, you might have to wait a few minutes longer than you're used to
  • If you're at Greenpoint Av Station, both Church Av and Court-Sq bound G trains will stop on the Court Square-bound platform.
Thanks for bearing with us.
This is an electric bus. Take a good look. Now go find it on the M14 SBS route and do a good thing for your commute and the environment.

Photo: Marc A. Hermann  / MTA NYC Transit / December 15, 2019

M14's electric

Did you know the M14 SBS is moving faster than ever? Did you also know several buses on the route are now electric buses? Yes, on December 15, we rolled out the first 15 of our new all-electric articulated bus fleet, and we put them on the M14 SBS route.

These are the first of approximately 500 electric buses that will be purchased as part of our 2020-2024 Capital Plan and will serve all five boroughs. It's part of our Fast Forward strategy to upgrade our bus fleet with a focus on zero-emissions technology.

If you needed another reason to go check out the M14 SBS to see how great bus service can be when it's implemented right, here you go.
Get the latest on this going-electric route→

Glamour shot of the week: Yes there's a theme here

No disrespect to installing all of those thousands of feet of cables, or securing new discharge pipes in place. But welding rail is just super cool. Here, our crews continue to make progress in the second tube. We're aiming to be done with all of the track work by the end of January.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / December 7, 2019

Construction look-ahead: Week of 1/4/2020

As mentioned above, we're pushing to get all of the trackwork—new ties, tie blocks, continuous welded rail, etc.—done in January. Here's our full list of work for the week ahead:
  • Continue installing the structural FRP panels in one work zone
  • Continue installing conduit and wire to power transponders, negative equalizers, antennas, pump feeders, tunnel lighting and exhaust fans at Bedford Av
  • Wire the new track cases near Avenue D
  • Replace plates and ties, remove and install new contact rail accessories, install new contact rail and weld rail in two areas, and weld negative fourth rail by 1 Av
  • Continue energy-efficient tunnel lighting installation: install tunnel lighting brackets, straps, receptacles, and pull the cable and install lighting fixtures
  • Install more discharge pipe and manifolds from N 7th St to the pump room

Stay connected

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, January 11, 2020 10:29 PM
Hi there. Lots to cover this week. Namely, our newly released L service schedule through March 2020. Spoiler: we were able to cut back a few of the weekend outages. Check it out.

Also, why exactly do we need to shut down L service for a full weekend? Our Chief Electrical Engineer hosts us for an energizing debate. Have a pleasant, spring-like weekend.
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Don't let the gray appearance fool you. Powerful stuff happens here—it's the new substation near Avenue B, one of three substations for the L Project. This is where we take Con Ed power and convert it into power that can run more L trains.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / December 7, 2019

More power to you! How we're electrifying the L

As announced, we'll be shutting down both L tracks in the tunnel for the March 20-22 weekend so we can hook up power lines to our new substations. Why? And how does it work?

We sat down with Stan Karoly, Chief Electrical Engineer at MTA New York City Transit, to find out more about these electrifying developments.

L Project Weekly: Just want to verify one thing. We built the new substations to deliver more electrical power to the L line. And more power means we can run more trains, right?

Stan Karoly: That's correct. With its modern signaling already in place, we can run trains more frequently. And the L warrants an increase in service. But for more trains, we also need more power.

LPW: So let's talk about how our power system works. Where does it come from?

SK: We get our incoming substation power from Con Ed. We used to make our own power, but that's a story for another day. It comes up at "medium voltage," which could be any number of voltages in that range. So it could be 13,200 volts to 33,000 volts, depending on what's available in that area. 

LPW: And that goes right to our tracks?

SK: Actually, no, but this is the perfect set up to talk substations. The Con Ed power first needs to be converted from high voltage AC, to lower voltage AC, then to DC power. That happens at the substations by taking the high voltage power and connecting it to a step-down transformer. We convert it to 650 volts DC, which then can go right to the third-rail. 

LPW: So we take high voltage and make it low voltage for the tracks?

SK: Yes, our track power is in the 650 voltage range. We also get lower voltages like 120/208 voltage, too, but that's what we use for things like tunnel lighting.

LPW: This may be a dumb question, but how do we know how much power we need? In other words, how do we know how much power to ask Con Ed for?

SK: This is actually the first step in the process, even before a shovel hits the ground of a future substation site. We do what we call a "traction power study." Lots of factors are considered. We look at trains-per-hour max, what the signaling system is, availability of the cabling system to carry the actual power. We get input from Maintenance of Way (MOW) Engineering, Power Operations, Operations Planning, and others. The max power we can get per unit from Con Ed is 3 megawatts. Most substations are two unit substations, so the total power available is 6 megawatts.

LPW: So why do we have to shut down service to hook up the power?

SK: Cables have to be physically connected to the tracks. That can't be done safely if the track is live! So power is removed in the affected section and obviously, no trains can then run. The traction power system is an integrated ecosystem, and you can't separate it track by track. Positive cables go to the third rail and negative cables feed to the substation. It's a delicate loop, and there are lots of things that need to be in place before we can connect the loop. Right now for example, at the two Brooklyn substations, we have all of our 2000 MCM cables (MCM is an abbreviation for "thousands of circular mils," a measurement of wire gauge) spliced with 500 MCM cables, which then will connect to the tracks once we're ready.

LPW: Um that's a our takeaway here should be "safety first"?

SK: Always! I know electrical jargon can get complicated. But I hope this shows just how many steps and factors there are, including safety for you and us. Lots of planning goes into this. We don't just take trains out of service on a whim. For this work, there's just no other way.

LPW: And what will be doing over this March weekend?

SK: Two things. At the substation near Avenue B, the team will be connecting negative and positive feeder cables from the substation to the circuit breaker house for both sides of L tracks. At the ones near Maspeth Avenue and Harrison Place in Brooklyn, they'll be connecting power cables from the substations to the tracks.

Quick fun fact that's relevant here: if the distance between the third rail and the substation is greater than 300 feet, we build a circuit breaker house. It acts as an intermediary between the third rail and the substation. That's what we had to do for the substation near Avenue B, but the ones in Brooklyn connect right to the third rail.

LPW: Sounds like you're charging right ahead! Thanks, Stan, and to the whole team working on this electric initiative.


Service news recap: Mark your calendars

We're making progress, and that means we can lock in those weekend dates with no L service in certain areas. Check out the full press release with the rundown of all the work we're doing, including the steps to connect power to our three new substations, and save these dates:

Jan 17-20 weekend: No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Feb 14-18 weekend (Presidents' Day included): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Get the details→

What you should know about upcoming service changes if you're really into knowing very detailed information

 Before we started the tunnel rehab in April, one Community Board 1, Brooklyn, resident spoke up at a meeting and said, "We need more detailed updates about service changes! All of it!"

That moment stuck with us. So in honor of that vocal, info-loving resident and our obsession with explaining things about subway service that you don't really need to know but will make you a more informed customer, here you go:

G, weeknights, Jan. 13-17, midnight to 1:30 a.m.: As we mentioned in last week's issue, we have overnight emergency work to do on the G. This means G trains will still run, but those extra trains won't operate between midnight and 1:30 a.m. these weeknights. Also FYI: if you're at Greenpoint Av Station, no matter which direction you're going, trains will stop on the Court Square-bound platform.

L, weeknight, Tuesday, Jan. 14: This week is L-monthly-track-inspection week! Tuesday night, service will be closer to normal as we will be running L trains on two tracks, and doing inspections between trains (what we call "working under flagging"). So service will be a little less frequent, but definitely more than every-20-minutes.

L, overnight at Bedford Av Station, Friday, Jan. 17, 11 p.m. through 5 a.m.: Come to the station with your fare ready! We're connecting new fare control machines and that means overnight, we have to temporarily disconnect power to all the fare control machines and about half of the turnstiles. We're working to have the MetroCard van there, but we'd recommend coming ready to swipe.

Glamour shot of the week: Maybe not the coziest bed, but it's certainly clean

"Track bed" that is. We're on pace to finish the rest of it, along with all the appropriate new tracks, ties and other equipment, in the Q1 tube this weekend.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA Capital Construction / January 5, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 1/11/2020

We're on the home stretch for the track work. And we're progressing the FRP panel installation, new conduits and cabling, among other items. Here are the highlights of what we're doing in the week ahead:
  • Continue installing the structural FRP panels in one work zone
  • Make steel repairs at Bedford Av
  • Continue installing conduit and wire to power transponders, the fire alarm systems at Bedford Av and 1 Av, and fare control machines and speakers at Bedford Av
  • Test and terminate communications cables
  • At the Avenue B substation, install control and communication wires, wire the circuit breaker house and install brackets and cleat 2mil cables
  • Install the negative equalizer in four zones
  • Install new contact rail and weld negative rail in two areas
  • Continue energy-efficient tunnel lighting installation: install tunnel lighting brackets and strapping cables at N 7th St
  • Install more discharge pipe and manifolds from N 7th St to the pump room
  • Unload and move into place new elevator equipment for Bedford Av
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, January 18, 2020 10:39 AM
Hello. Remember when we opened the new entrance at 1 Av Station on the south side of 14th St? We have an update that'll put a spring in your...step.

Also, which part of our construction crew said "farewell" this past weekend—because their work is 100 percent complete​; and don't forget about no-L-service-between-Lorimer-St-and-Broadway-Junction this weekend (NOT including MLK Day—normal service is back on Monday!). Have a great weekend.
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All shiny and new. We opened the south side Avenue A entrance on November 4. Now we're getting ready to do the same for the north side.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / November 4, 2019

Climbing along: New 1 Av Station entrance will open in February

It was a temperate day in early November when we ceremoniously opened a new entrance to 1 Av Station (photos here if you missed it). This was the entrance located at Avenue A and 14th Street, on the south side, for the Brooklyn-bound travelers.

Since then, we've been demolishing and rebuilding the old entrance on the south side of 14th St at 1st Ave. We've also been doing the final preparations to open the north side entrance at Avenue A—and the time has come.

We're working toward opening the new entrance located on the north side of Avenue A and 14th Street in mid-February. Here's what you need to know: 

  • We'll share an official opening date in the next few weeks
  • About a week after the new north side Avenue A entrance opens, the old north side 1 Ave entrance will close. Like the south side, the old entrance is...old. It needs to be completely rehabbed.
  • While this work is happening, both entrances to the 1 Av Station will be located at Avenue A (don't even ask because we're not going to temporarily rename it "Ave A Station").
  • For the time being, on weeknights (between approximately 9:45 p.m. and 5 a.m.) and weekends (all day), use the Avenue A north side entrance whether you're headed toward Manhattan or Brooklyn.
  • Come April 2020, Avenue A south and north entrances will close for final finishes while 1st Ave south and north entrances will fully reopen.
  • Yes, the elevators are also still in progress and are on track for early completion in June 2020.
Can't remember all of this? Don't worry. We'll put the most critical info on signs on barricades at the station and post reminders on social media ahead of the changes.

Upcoming L service changes

 Did you miss it? We announced an updated L service calendar through March 2020. Mark your calendars for these upcoming changes.

One quick clarification first. We heard from many of you that we wouldn't have normal L service in parts of Brooklyn on MLK Day. Great news—we will! We realize it can be confusing because of how we date service changes: Monday is always included for weekend work because we work overnight and typically return service at 5 a.m. Which is then Monday. Not Sunday. So now you know.

Jan 17-20 weekend (does not include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—L service will be back to normal at 5 a.m. Monday): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Feb 14-18 weekend (Presidents' Day included): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Get the details→

Adios, track team 

 We don't like goodbyes. But that comes with the territory of projects that move fast and are ahead of schedule.

Over the weekend, we had to say "see you later" to one of our teams: the crew who installed all 25,200 linear feet of continuous welded rail, and all the pieces that go with it—new track ties, cement tie blocks, and more.

Yes, all of the track work is done. All of it.

While we'll miss them, this means our other remaining teams can have more flexibility and space to work. More space means more work can get done in a shift. And more work completed means faster progress toward that April-2020-tunnel-done target.
See all the work we're doing→

Glamour shot of the week: All those cables have to connect somewhere

Our crews work to connect signal cables within the new signal cases in the Brooklyn-bound tube. Once we're done, we'll have installed 56,000 (!) linear feet of signal cables in both tubes.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 5, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 1/18/2020

We're back to conduits and cables. Lots of them:
  • Continue the progress on resiliency improvements by creating the new pads, installing new sliding door and lock, and overflow drain in the pump room
  • Patch the wall below new tile work and install more track wall tile at Bedford Av
  • Continue installing conduit and wire for: communications cables at Bedford Av, fire alarm on Bedford Av platform, elevator on south side of 14th St, receptacles, lighting in the pump room, and substation near Avenue B
  • Install, test and terminate control cables at the Avenue B-area substation
  • Continue installing new cleats and brackets for the 2mil cable at the Avenue B substation
  • Install more discharge pipe and manifolds from N 7th to the pump room
  • Continue the steel repair work at Bedford Ave
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, January 25, 2020 11:21 AM
Hi there. Did you see the two water main breaks we had to deal with earlier this month? (No judgment if you missed it—we did have service back by the p.m. rush.) Maybe it was the newscasts of all that water (or just climate zeitgeist), but we've been getting a lot of questions lately about how we're protecting the L from future superstorms. Like the one that flooded the L tunnel. More on that below.

But first, a big shout out to the man, the legend, but definitely not a myth, Andy Byford, our departing NYCT president and favorite Brit. From the start, he's been an advocate for minimizing the mythical and maximizing the real-ness of this project in how we communicate with you. If you've enjoyed this punny newsletter, or successfully used fuchsia signage to make sense of service changes, know that Andy helped us make it happen.

So, this week, think #WWAD ("what would Andy do"), and make your travel and those around you a little easier. Take off those backpacks when boarding. Eat beans on toast, but not on a subway or bus. And of course, use the alternate service on the G, M and J instead of the L. He'll be chuffed to bits.
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Throwback to that time a gondola would have been a more effective form of transportation in the L tubes. AKA, Superstorm Sandy's impact on the L, 2012.

Photo: Patrick Cashin  / MTA / November 5, 2012

Flood-prevention 5: How we're protecting against future Superstorm Sandys

A few weeks ago, a little incident called half-a-million-gallons-of-water-flooding-the-subway happened. No, this wasn't another Sandy. (That was 7 million gallons in the L tunnel alone!). It was a major water main break near Lincoln Center.

Regardless, it had some of you harkening back to Sandy—we saw a spike in questions about flood protection in recent days. Mainly, what are we doing to prep the L in case of a future Sandy? 

We've already talked about the "flex gates" we're installing at street-level. (See L Project Weekly issues #51 and #6 for this.) And how our new sump pumps are better equipped for water. (See L Project Weekly issue #28 for more.) But we haven't given you a full list of all these "resiliency" projects in one place!
Here are the top 5 things we're doing to make the L more resilient:

1. Installing flexible ways to seal openings at the street-level (vents, manholes, hatches). The "flex gates" we profiled before are in this bucket.

2. Hardening the N 7th fan plant structure. More on this another time, but overall, this means that we literally built a reinforced structure around the existing fan plant that can withstand a hurricane.

3Upgrading the pumping system (increasing capacity, raising the controls, providing backup power).

4. Moving critical assets higher up and installing more flood-resistant equipment (i.e., cabling).

5. Non-L-Project-specific, but there are also system-wide initiatives we've been rolling out that are in effect for the L now: expanded hurricane emergency plan, bolstered incident response procedures and additional backup generators.

Upcoming L service changes

If you haven't already, save these dates and remember to use our free shuttle buses and the alternate service on the G, M and J these weekends:

Feb 14-18 weekend (Presidents' Day included): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Get the details→

Translating transit speak: What are "manifolds"?

 When we talk about resiliency measures, discharge pipes and manifolds are always on the list. But what is a manifold? And how many are there? 

In each tube, we're installing nine sets of manifolds. In the photo here, we have one set of these manifolds on a work train, ready to be installed. A manifold is a pipe with series of outlets with valves that connect the discharge pipes. They help us control and localize water through the discharge pipes. For the L Project (or any project within the NYC subway system), this is a specific kind of manifold called a "pump car manifold." 

A few more quick facts: 
  • Each manifold set is comprised of two different parts: tees and 4" angle valves, which use a "Dixon type D coupler."
  • The sets have 6 tees and 6 of the valve-plus-coupler combo.
  • The total weight of each manifold set is 2,076 lbs (see—this is why we need work trains!).
So can you actually see these manifolds from the train? Only if you look carefully and don't get dizzy. Here's how: while in the tube, look out the window and angle your eyes as far down as possible. Look for the silver, shiny stuff—that's the discharge pipe. When that seems to stop for a hot second before starting up again, that's one of the nine manifold sets per tube, connecting the discharge pipes.

Glamour shot of the week: Stairway to fan plant

Human included for scale. This is the Brooklyn side of where the tube ends, right under the N 7th fan plant. This fan plant is key to our strategy to keep water out of the L tunnel. Look out for an explainer on this in an upcoming issue.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 5, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 1/25/2020

Yes, there are still more conduits and cables to install. Here's what we're working on in the week ahead:
  • Install structural FRP panels in one zone
  • Continue resilience work in the pump room, installing a new sliding door hood, bull rings, ladder and fan support system
  • Install lots of conduits: for the negative crossover equalizers by the N 7th and Avenue D fan plants, pump room, new fare control, announcement system, new elevators at Bedford Av (yes, elevators—one goes from street to mezzanine, and one goes from mezzanine to platform)
  • Install positive gap jumper
  • Chop and pour back for the negative return rails near both fan plants
  • Continue testing the fiber optic cable
  • Program the new automated, energy-efficient light fixtures
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 1, 2020 11:22 AM
Hi again. Good issue for all you subway fans, because we’re going to talk about…subway fans! Specifically, one of the fan plants that ventilates the L tunnel on the Brooklyn side. We’ll explain what we did to protect that ventilation plant from future storm surges and flooding. We’ll also explain what a “Slosh Cat” is—that’s right, a Slosh Cat. Read on! 

Plus, open up your calendar apps and date books—we have ourselves a date for the opening of the Avenue A north entrance (and the closing of the 1st Avenue north entrance). Have a great weekend.
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Before (top) and after (bottom). The N 7th St. Fan Plant on the Brooklyn side of the L tunnel got the full resiliency treatment—plus an aesthetic redesign with community input.

Photos: MTA

How to build a solid fan base: Make SLOSH-proof fan plants

Last time we checked, nobody has fixed the climate crisis. Rising sea levels and superstorms, like the one that swamped the L tunnel in 2012, remain looming threats to the planet, including our subway system.

So, hardening our system against climate impacts is a big part of modernization—and the L Project. One example we mentioned in last week’s resiliency rundown is the work we did at the N 7th St. Fan Plant on the Brooklyn side of the L tunnel. To explain why this particular fan plant is at more risk than others and what we did about it, we talked to engineer Amen Mukhlis and resiliency manager Steven Loehr.   

L Project Weekly: First, guys, tell us what a fan plant is for.

Amen Mukhlis: Sure, a fan plant is just that. It’s a facility with very powerful fans that ventilate a section of the subway tunnel. It’s not for constant ventilation, but it’s critical for safety. It will clear smoke if there’s a track fire or just hot air to keep our crews cooler. Right now, we have 204 fan plants across the system. That includes one fan plant on each end of all our under-river tunnels. There’s no street grating there, of course, so fans are the only way to vent those tunnels.

Steven Loehr: Let me just add that 32 of our fan plants are in flood zones. The N 7th St. Fan Plant on the Brooklyn side of the L tunnel is one of those. It’s right beside the river. Because it’s for ventilation, it must have large open shafts to push air out. But those openings could also let massive amounts of water in.

LPW: So, this fan plant must be located right at the end of the L tunnel. But that’s next to the river and in a flood zone.

AM: Right, it’s in a SLOSH Cat 2….

LPW: Wait, did you say Slosh Cat… like a drenched kitty? What’s a Slosh Cat?

SL: It’s a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) term. It stands for Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes. SLOSH! Anyway, it’s a computer model for predicting storm surges on land. Like most of our flood-vulnerable facilities, we are protecting that fan plant against a SLOSH Category 2 surge, plus three feet. What we call SLOSH Cat 2 plus 3. Skipping the math, that’s flooding up to 11 feet above ground level. Which is massive flooding! 

LPW: Okay, so how do we protect our fan plant from the big slosh?

AM: The fan plant itself was basically okay. It didn’t make any sense to totally knock down the 1916-structure and rebuild it. So, what we did—and this is new for us—we upgraded the plant and built a protective envelope around it. The envelope is 18-inch-thick, cast-in-place concrete. The piles extend 40 feet underground, down to the bedrock, so flooding can’t flow underneath and push up the structure. We sealed the entrance with heavy, tight-locking marine doors. Literally like you’d have in a submarine.

SL: Also important to note, there are more than just fans there. Since the fan plant is above ground and flood-proofed, we also use it to house controls for critical equipment and backup power for our pumps. It’s a safehouse for anything we want to place out of harm’s way.

LPW: So, if there’s ever a movie-style climate apocalypse, the L’s N 7th St. Fan Plant is where you want to go?

AM: Definitely, I’d go there! But kidding aside, big sections of the MTA system, like the L tunnel, were devastated by flooding in 2012. The rebuilding is still going on. It’s very expensive, and climate change isn’t stopping. As an engineer, I couldn’t see rebuilding anything without doing the best we can in terms of resiliency. We have to protect these investments.

LPW: Totally agree. Now, Amen, you said the envelope is poured concrete. But what we see isn’t concrete. What’s the silvery cladding? It looks like some of those new postmodern buildings in Williamsburg. 

AM: That’s no accident! Since we were doing a very visible, above-ground project, we also thought about the design and community impact. It wasn’t an afterthought; it was part of the project. We did outreach to local groups and the community board with two options. We even talked with some of the architects who worked on new buildings in the area, and they suggested designs. That’s how we arrived at this exterior. So, yes, it does reflect the local architecture. And it’s weather-resistant.

LPW: Nice! Now, before we go, Amen, we have to congratulate you! We see you were just named one of New York’s 2020 Top Young Professionals by the Engineering News Record. Great news! It says you’ve overseen 11 of our flood resiliency projects. You mentor high school students and work with veterans. It also says you were in the Desert Storm war, which impacted your career.

AM: It did. At one point I was stuck in the war zone without food, electricity, medicine, or any outside communications. I think an experience like that gives you a kind of drive and tenacity.

LPW: Sounds like resiliency is part of your ethos! We’re really glad you’re bringing that drive to these extremely important projects. Thanks for talking with us.


Upcoming L service changes

We'll keep listing these dates in each issue so you don't forget:

Feb 14-18 weekend (Presidents' Day included): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Get the details→

Save the date: February 10, 2020

 We mentioned that it was looking like mid-February would be the opening of the Avenue A north a few weeks ago, and now we can lock it in:

On February 10, this brand new 1 Av L station entrance will open.

As a reminder, we'll also be fully demolishing and reconstructing the 1st Avenue north entrance, just like we're doing on the south side. 

Here's the full schedule of what to expect:
  • February 10, 2020: This new Avenue A north entrance will open with the temporary finishes (see photo here for current progress).
  • Once L trains start running on one track only around ~9:45 p.m. Friday night (February 15), you'll use the Avenue A north entrance to access trains in both directions on weekends and weeknights.
  • Come Monday, February 17, the 1 Avenue north entrance will be officially closed for reconstruction. Like the other side, this will take about three months, so we're estimating a May 2020 completion.
  • While this work is happening, both entrances to the 1 Av Station will be located at Avenue A.
  • Once we finish the 1st Avenue side entrances, the ones by Avenue A will close again for a bit so we can do the final finishes.

Glamour shot of the week: A portrait of resiliency

What you can see: extraction pipes and nozzles and pumps in our updated pump room.

What you can't see: more than double the capacity to handle any incoming water in the L tunnel. Among other updates, we now have four pumps in the house. Two small pumps that each drain 275 gallons per minute. And two super-strength ones that each drain 1,100 gallons per minute.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 25, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 2/1/2020

We're testing stuff we've already installed, and continuing progress installing conduits for the stations:
  • Install structural FRP panels in one zone
  • Place the new angles and louvers in position at the circuit breaker house
  • Remove one of the inner barricades as progress continues at Bedford Av elevator
  • Deliver new staircase at Bedford Av
  • Continue progress at the new Avenue B substation: install high tension cables and battery racks
  • Terminate, dress and tag DC equalizer circuit at the new circuit breaker house
  • Test the 4th rail for continuity and the manifold bolts between the Avenue D and N 7th fan plants
  • Continue conduit work: in the pump room, for the transponders, fire alarm and announcement system at 1 Av, fare control and announcement system at Bedford Av, new employee bathroom at Bedford Av
  • Install temporary and permanent negative equalizers
  • Continue waterproof grouting from 1 Av to the pump room, and the pump room to Bedford Av
  • Continue installing discharge pipes, gaskets and insulating them
  • Install the positive gap jumper
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 8, 2020 12:56 PM
Hi. The tunnel might get the most glamour shots. But the work we're doing at four stations in Brooklyn is just as critical. We check in with the project manager to see how it's coming along ahead of next weekend when we'll be working (also when you'll have no service between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction). Spoiler: our work is ahead of schedule.

Plus, our Monday holiday calendar might not always line up with your work schedule, so a reminder that we 
will be working Presidents' Day Monday. So yes, even if you have to work that day, pretend it's a Sunday and use the alternate L service options. More detail below. Have a fantastic weekend.
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DeKalb Av, a work in progress. Here, you can see the finished raised platform for accessibility purposes. The new platform edge is completed. Still to go: tactile strips and painting.

Photo: MTA / January 2020

Live from Brooklyn: Progress at Morgan Av, DeKalb Av, Halsey St, and Bushwick-Aberdeen Avs

Morgan Av. DeKalb Av. Halsey St. Bushwick-Aberdeen Avs Stations. When we talk about making the most of any service disruption on the L, these stations are a model for how we do that.

So what improvements can you see already? And we'll be working over the Presidents' Day weekend (yes, including Presidents' Day—remember to use that alternate subway service and shuttle buses!), but when will the work be finished? We checked in with our project manager, John Puthota, for the scoop.

L Project Weekly: So what's this job exactly? Is it the same work across all four stations?

John Puthota: Even though all four of these stations—Morgan Av, DeKalb Av, Halsey St, and Bushwick-Aberdeen Avs—opened in 1928 when the Canarsie Line was extended, they were all designed differently. Which means there are different needs at each station.

Our teams did detailed surveys of each station, and Morgan Av needed the most work, followed by Halsey St. At these two stations, we're doing repairs to the platform columns. And at Morgan, we're doing repairs to the structural beams.

LPW: 1928! Big year for debuts. Mickey Mouse, the first trans-pacific flight, and these four L stations.

JP: Yes, and our work was designed to last. At this point, we're making repairs to the structure, not full replacements. At Morgan, we found that there were 13 steel beams that needed to be reinforced. Each beam is encased in concrete. Over time, due to water infiltration, steel corrodes and expands. In turn, there are cracks in the surrounding concrete.

So our inspections identified areas where this was happening so we could get ahead of concrete fully breaking. Our crews go in and chip out the old concrete, do lead abatement as a precaution, and then we send another inspection through to check it. The job isn't done until that final inspection says the structure meets our standards.

We're also repairing 5 platform columns between Halsey and Morgan.

LPW: Okay so structural beam and column repairs. What about the other stations?

JP: Most of the work for the job is actually accessibility-related. We're working to meet guidelines for accessibility needs on the platforms. All four stations got new platform edges with the tactile strips. And we raised sections of the platforms so they would be level with the train platform. Our ADA-focused team comes out to test it. They measure the vertical and horizontal gaps between the train platform and our station platform edges. If they're within the guidance, the platform is deemed to meet this particular standard. We actually just completed the final inspection for this yesterday at Bushwick-Aberdeen!

LPW: That's great. I know we have a master plan for making our system more accessible with elevators. It's smart that we're making these other accessibility upgrades in the meantime. They're not as visible as elevators, but they are also important to meeting ADA standards. And getting it all done while the L is under construction!

JP: For sure. That's kind of the theme of this project. It was identified as something we could advance while the L Project tunnel rehabilitation was happening, to squeeze as much work into every time we disrupt our customers. 

For example: DeKalb Av. It's in the middle of where this work is happening. We knew we'd need to close service for some weekends between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. Our team identified DeKalb Av as a station that really could use some love. It had lots of paint that was chipping—railings, ceilings, columns and even the station agent booth. So we're totally repainting it.

LPW: So we have to ask the question we know our readers care about—when will this work be completed?

JP: The contract is scheduled for April 2020 completion. We're at 86% complete now. This included 12 weekend service outages to accommodate the work. But we're aiming to finish it with just 9. We have one coming up next weekend over the long Presidents' Day weekend, and then the March 20-22 weekend. I'm optimistic, but we'll know for sure once safety inspections are completed.

LPW: Speedy but safe! That's a great mantra. Thanks, John, to you and your teams for minimizing impact on our customers while putting their safety first.

Don't forget: Presidents' Day weekend includes Monday for every-20-minute-L trains and no service between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction

Next weekend, remember—we will be working over the Presidents' Day holiday. That means the weekend situation with L trains every 20 minutes will also be in effect on Monday. Not a regular weekend L rider? Freshen up on your alternate service options here.

Note that this is in addition to the no service between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction mentioned below.

Click the button below to plan your trip using our alternate service options.
Upcoming L Project service changes

Feb 14-18 weekend
 (Presidents' Day included): No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. 
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Find your alternate service options here→

See you at the northwest corner of Avenue A and 14th St on Monday morning

 We're just days away from the opening of the new entrance at 1 Av Station.

We'll be out that morning to celebrate, so stop by then, or any time really. These stairs aren't going anywhere.

Related links: Livonia Av to Junius St free transfer is here to stay

Have you been using the L Project-free transfer between Livonia Av on the L and Junius St on the 3? Breaking news: it's not just an L Project-thing any more. It's for keeps!

We met up with your local elected officials yesterday and announced that ahead of the permanent connector (we're building it as part of our 2020-24 Capital Plan), the free transfer will continue. This means you'll be able to travel between these stations on one fare after April, as you have been during the L Project.

Click the button below to read the press release for the full details.
Read the press release→

Glamour shot of the week: This is what it looks like when we rebuild a station entrance

You've only had access to the Avenue A south entrance to get to your Brooklyn-bound trains at 1 Av Station. This is why: structural steel beams had to be replaced, stairs needed to be upgraded to meet ADA standards, among other fixes.

We're on track to finish this rebuild of the 1st Avenue south entrance by April. Thanks for working with us through the construction.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 25, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 2/8/2020

Big milestone this week with the opening of the Avenue A north entrance! We're getting ready for that while working on several other items:
  • Chop for the negative equalizer, install the corresponding conduit and form and pour for the required concrete at Avenue D fan plant and existing circuit breaker house
  • Test the negative return rail between Bedford Av to 1 Av Stations
  • Finish duct bank work near the pump room
  • Install third rail positive gap jumper in one zone
  • Remove old signal cables and install conduit for cellular fiber cable between the fan plants
  • Continue installing the racking system and installing cables on it
  • Continue conduit work: in the communication room and new circuit breaker house, for the fire alarm at 1 Av and for the announcement system at both 1 Av and Bedford Av
  • Install Help Points at Bedford Av
  • Continue waterproof grouting from 1 Av to the pump room, and the pump room to Bedford Av
  • Continue installing discharge pipes, valves and insulating them
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 15, 2020 11:54 AM
Hello there. Valentine's Day was yesterday, and it got us thinking about how to make connections that last. No, we're not talking about stuff like "make good eye contact." We're talking cables, negative equalizers and communications systems—all of the things we need to connect between the two tubes before we're done. We'll be going back to the Manhattan-bound tube to do the work. Read on for the chummy details.

Plus, a final reminder that we 
will be working this Presidents' Day Monday. So please, use the alternate service options all weekend AND Monday, including the free shuttle buses between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction where there's no L service.

And a final and huge thank you to outgoing MTA NYCT President Andy Byford. We appreciate everything you’ve done for the L Project and beyond. We’re looking forward to getting your new contact details so we can shamelessly keep sending you this newsletter. 
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This is an outlet that houses our tunnel power. It's one of the many systems that are installed in both tubes, but need to be connected together into one system to be fully completed.

Photo: Trent Reeves / MTA / January 25, 2020

Making lasting connections: Why we're going back to work in the Q2 tube

We're still tracking to complete the tunnel portion of the L Project in April. Quick recap of our progress:

April 26, 2019: Started tunnel rehabilitation, Manhattan-bound tube ("Q2") was first to go under the knife (hammer?)

September 29, 2019: Track, structural FRP panels, discharge pipes and controls, cables, and cable racking system completed within the first phase of the tunnel rehabilitation in Manhattan-bound tube

September 30, 2019: Phase 2 of the tunnel rehabilitation began with work in Brooklyn-bound tube ("Q1")

The next phase of the project will be to connect some of the systems we've installed. Many of these—emergency telephone and alarms, for example—are one system. This means they need to be installed and then connected between the two tubes. And you guessed it, this means we have to go back into the Manhattan-bound tube to make that happen.

We caught up with Nick Santoiemma, construction manager, to get the details and to decode some transit speak. Read on to become an expert on "punch-list items" and "cut-over tasks."

L Project Weekly: We're not shy about getting in the weeds on this construction stuff. But um, why should customers care that we're going back to the Manhattan-bound tube? Will they even notice it?

Nick Santoiemma: There are two main reasons that customers should pay attention to this: One: if you're a 1 Av or 3 Av Station customer, you'll be using the entrance on the south side of 14th St instead. So weeknights starting around 9:45 p.m. and weekends, you'll use the entrance on the south side of 14th St—the Brooklyn-bound track—for service in both directions. This is because these two stations only have one active track as part of our single-tracking operation. Check out this animation for a refresher on what single-tracking on the L looks like:

Two: Even though we talk about the L tunnel as two separate tubes, there are many systems that operate as one. For example, the cable that allows emergency personnel to communicate reliably while in the tunnel. It's called an "antenna cable." We install it in both tubes, but they need to be connected into one system. This is a safety system of course.

LPW: Safety, say no more. What other systems need this kind of...?

NS: ...I think the word you're looking for is "cut-over." That's what we call it when we switch from the old or temporary systems, and connect and turn on the newly installed ones.

LPW: Mm how...descriptive. What other systems do we need to "cut-over"?
NS: The negative equalizers. These balance power between the tracks in either tube. Also, a bunch of other cables: fiber optic cable, networking cable, and the cable that will bring customers wireless service in the tunnel. 

Power cables, too. We'll have them all installed and hooked up to the circuit breaker house. That way we can fully energize the substations as soon as possible. 

We'll also fully connect the pump room power. Cables from both tubes will be connected to the control panels in the pump room. Then the new sump pumps will be active.

LPW: Got it. FYI for readers: this change is scheduled for March 9 through March 30. Nick, why exactly do we have to go back to the Manhattan-bound tube to make this happen?

NS: You mean Q2? It's because...

LPW: Hold on there for a second. We explained this whole "Q" business in a previous newsletter. Basically, Q1 = Brooklyn-bound track and Q2 = Manhattan-bound track. To find out why it's "Q" and not "L," check out L Project Weekly #47

Okay, sorry, Nick. You were saying?

NS: Right, so if you think about it, all of these systems we're cutting over are absolutely critical to running trains and keeping customers safe. So right now we have either temporary systems in place, or the old ones. We couldn't remove those on the Manhattan-bound track when we left it back in September! So we have to go back and remove the old stuff as we're turning on the new systems. We'll also be able to do the finishing touches.

LPW: What kind of finishing touches are we talking about? 

NS: We have a lot of inspections to do. For example on the tracks, we've already passed the initial survey, running the track geometry car through. But there is another step where a surveyor comes through. They do 3D imaging surveys of the track and everything else in the tunnel, too. They create a record of the as-built environment in the tunnel, so we know exactly where everything is located upon completion. That way we can compare it over time for maintenance purposes or in the event that, heaven forbid, we have another natural disaster.

We'll also go over what we call our "punch-list." It's us double- and triple-checking our work. Doing minor touch-ups to paint, stuff like that. 

LPW: Good to know how thorough we are. After all it's been through, this tunnel deserves the extra love and attention. Thanks, Nick!

L Project service calendar: L will skip Union Square one night this week between 11:45 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Have you been to Union Square's L platform lately? You've probably seen that big blue barricade that's still on the platform where we're building a whole new escalator. 

 We want to get rid of that barricade and open the escalator as soon as possible. To keep the job moving, we need full access to the platform, and to get full access to the platform, we have to make L trains skip Union Square during the overnight hours from Feb 18-19 (~11:45 p.m.-5 a.m.).

We'll be doing architectural finish work—wall tiles, painting and lighting—plus a special cleaning required before the final installation steps happen. The cleaning is from top to bottom of the escalator, so instead of ponchos, we decided skipping the station for a few hours was a safer solution for you.

For more information on this service change and the upcoming March 20 full closure, click the button below.
Upcoming L Project service changes

THIS WEEKEND! Feb 14-18 (Presidents' Day included): 
No L service in Brooklyn between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. L tunnel rehabilitation work is also in effect on Presidents' Day Monday, so L trains will be running every 20 minutes between 8 Av and Lorimer St. Use the alternate service options (M, J, G and M14 SBS in Manhattan) for faster service.

Feb 18-19 overnight: L will skip Union Square overnight from Tuesday, February 18 to Wednesday, February 19 at 5 a.m. Use 3 Av Station for L service.
Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Find your alternate service options here→

ICYMI: Livonia Av to Junius St free transfer is here to stay

Did you hear the news last week? That free transfer between Livonia Av on the L and Junius St on the 3 is here for good.

Click the button below for the full details.
Read the press release→

Glamour shot of the week: We have the hook-up

More cables that need to be connected to their Q2 brethren. From bottom to top:

Tunnel receptacle power cable
Handrail (yellow, not a cable, just noting for reference)
Radio antenna cable
Tunnel lighting cable
Communications system cables (above the light)
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 25, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 2/15/2020

We're prepping for our "cut-over" moment, with lots of cable installation and more:
  • Chop for the negative equalizer, install the corresponding conduit and form and pour for the required concrete near the Bedford Av Station
  • Continue working on the platform-to-mezzanine stair under construction at Bedford Av
  • Install stainless steel drain covers on the trackwall at Bedford Av
  • Drill for the new permanent pump cable near the pump room
  • Install third rail positive gap jumper in one zone
  • Continue conduit work: communications, pump room and N 6th substation
  • Close the 1st Ave and 14th St station entrance and start demo
  • Continue installing trackwall tiles and grouting them at Bedford Av
  • Complete the final insulation on the discharge pipes
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 22, 2020 10:03 PM
Hi. You may have noticed our construction work list at the end of these emails is getting somewhat shorter, with more work summed up as "inspections and testing." But what does that mean? We talk with a mechanical engineer on our team to find out how they create a fake flooding situation to test our new and upgraded discharge system on the L. 

Plus, what work did we get done last weekend between Broadway Junction and Lorimer St—and what project will finish early?; and don't forget about service changes on March 20-23 weekend. Have a fabulous weekend.
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Up and out. These shiny discharge pipes are part of the new drainage system on the L. If we need to get water out of the system, water is pumped into them with our sump pumps, and then out to the sewer.

Photo: Trent Reeves / MTA / February 17, 2020

Faking a flood: How we test the upgraded drainage system on the L

One of the reasons we're all here in the first place is too much water. Well specifically, too much water that we couldn't get rid of. We know we can't help the "too much water" part. But the "getting rid of it" part is a different story. This is one of the systems we've upgraded in a big way and have been installing for the L Project—the drainage system.

We've installed most of it in both tubes. But we can't pack up until we've tested it under as close to real-life conditions as we can create. Yes, this includes some intentional flooding. We talked with Ray Forbes, a mechanical engineer at the MTA, who's been leading this soggy effort for the L Project.

L Project Weekly: Ray, so you're saying that the "drainage system" is more complicated than just drains?

Ray Forbes: That's right. It's all of the valves, discharge pipes, joints, drains and sump pumps. In each tube, there's about 3,415 linear feet of new discharge pipe with nine new pump manifolds. It's a system. If one piece doesn't work, then the system doesn't work. 

LPW: Okay, but how do you really know it's going to work? It seems impossible to recreate Superstorm Sandy-like conditions without wreaking havoc.

RF: This is why we have mechanical engineers! There are three main things we do. First, and what our customers would probably expect, is basic inspections. Tightening a screw here, adjusting the position of a discharge pipe there. We're doing that now. 

Then starting this weekend, we're moving on to the fun part. It starts with something called hydrotesting. This is for the discharge lines, which is where the water goes to get off the tracks and out to the sewer. We pressurize the pipes with water up to a very specific measure, 125 lbs per sq inch, and then we inspect it for leaks. If it passes, then it's good to go. If not, we investigate the issue and make recommendations for how to fix the problems.

LPW: Definitely sounds like a task worthy of your mechanical engineering smarts. What's next?
RF: The next thing we'll do is to test the supply power of the sump pumps. And to do that, we basically have to fake a flood. So lots of water. These sump pumps are similar in design to the ones you would find in a residential house, but much, much more powerful. And we have different ones for different pumping capacities. So the goal of the test is to make sure they each can work individually, AND that they can do so in tandem with each other. 

LPW: So we have to ask the obvious question—how much water do you need?

RF: It's actually not that much because of how we set up the test system. Instead of pumping to the sewer like we would in a real-life situation, we create a loop where the sump pumps push water back on the tracks. So we're not wasting water.

LPW: How long does all of this take? 

RF: We are testing both for mechanical and electrical function, and there two phases to test the system. First we run on the regular power for 1.5 hours. Meaning, the pumps are connected to the main power source. After that, we basically pretend that there's been a power outage and we put all the pumps on at full speed and only on backup power. We do this for another 1.5 hours. If they can keep up, they pass. 

LPW: What other things do you look for when you're doing your checklist?

RF: Some things are obvious. We cleaned all of the drains out. But if there's a clogged drain, then we'll see the water rising on the tracks and not even making it to the sump to be pumped into the discharge pipes. 

LPW: Thank you for doing this important work. How did you get into it? 

RF: As a mechanical engineer in NYC Transit, there are so many different things to work on. I did similar work on the 7 line project. I actually have to run now to do my annual hazardous waste training. We're cross-trained on so many different elements of the system, because we assume that we'll encounter many, many different situations, everything from clogged drains to lead abatement. 

LPW: Never a dry moment when you're working on the subways! Thanks, Ray.

L Project service calendar: Save March 20-23

We announced it a while ago, so a reminder that March 20-23 there will be no L service between 8 Av and Broadway Junction. 

For more information on this service change and the upcoming March 20 full closure, click the button below.
Upcoming L Project service changes

Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Find your alternate service options here→

Progress report: Brooklyn substations + stations work

We worked all of last weekend, including a full L service closure between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction. And everything went according to plan! 

In fact, it went so well that the Brooklyn stations project will be completed ahead of schedule. Originally set for April 2020 completion, we'll be able to finish all of our work at Bushwick-Aberdeen Avs, Halsey St, Morgan Av and DeKalb Av during the March 20-23 weekend.

Here's the rundown of what we accomplished:
Stations project

Bushwick-Aberdeen Avs: platform drains cleaned and tested, cracks repaired and painted, final station maintenance inspection

Halsey St: platform drains cleaned and tested, primed platform columns, demolished platform column bases and repaired them, cracks repaired and painted, final station maintenance inspection

Morgan Av: structural beam repaired and encased with new concrete, platform drains cleaned and tested, cracks repaired and painted, final station maintenance inspection

DeKalb Av: platform drains cleaned and tested, primed platform columns, station agent booth primed and painted, cracks repaired and painted, final station maintenance inspection
Two Brooklyn substations project

Positive and negative cables were connected from both the Maspeth Ave and Harrison Pl substations to the Q1 and Q2 tracks on the L

Connections were inspected and tested

Additional work was coordinated to take advantage of the closure and was also completed, including: 
  • Track maintenance on both tracks between Morgan Av and Lorimer St Stations
  • Signal maintenance and testing on both tracks between Broadway Junction and Lorimer St Stations
  • Survey work for pump room near Wilson Av Station

Glamour shot of the week: This is how power gets to the tracks (sometimes)

Quiz: how do we take in and convert power to be usable for our subways? 

It's a substation. But there's a catch. If the substation is physically too far from the tracks, then we build an intermediary facility, called a circuit breaker house. We're adding one for the L Project. This photo shows one part of the operation.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / February 17, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 2/22/2020

Like we said, lots of inspections and testing. Here's everything else we're working on this week ahead:
  • Prep structural FRP panels for fiber optic monitoring cables
  • Core drill for new antenna cables and cellular cables near both fan plants
  • Deliver elevator cab to Bedford Av
  • Chop and install three track drains near Bedford Av
  • Install remaining negative equalizer conduit, and form and pour the concrete around it
  • Test and terminate communications cables from the Driggs Ave-side communications facility to the N 7th fan plant, the pump room to Avenue D fan plant, and Avenue B substation toward 1st Ave
  • Finish installing connectors and wiring for 3rd rail power from Avenue B substation
  • Work on new conduit for fire alarm systems at both stations
  • Install more communications and emergency lighting conduit at 1 Av Station
  • Install valves and piping at the pump room
  • Put the caps on the manifolds in two areas
See our full construction plan→

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 29, 2020 11:14 AM
Hello. One piece of the L Project is to build three new substations so we can power more trains. (If you've been on the L during rush times like us, you know it's needed.) We have the flexibility to make this change because we already invested in modern signaling on the L. But there's more to making it all work than just the signals. Like the train cars! We go in, around and under the L line's train cars so you know how it all works.

Plus, a heads up on some upcoming weekend work that will impact you if you use the A/C/E as an alternative, especially if you transfer to one of them at 8 Av (because you won't be able to), and our tips for staying healthy in light of the coronavirus. Have a super weekend.
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Pop-top view of the R143, which holds 42 seated and 198 standing passengers. So yes, you’re lucky to get a seat. It's these cars, combined with the CBTC signaling technology on the L, that make the modern signaling system all work. And with the three new substations we're currently building, it's what will allow us to increase trains by 10% in peak times once the L Project is complete.

Photo: MTA

Rollin’, rollin’, rolling stock—Know your modern signaling-ready L trains

Any trainspotters out there? We’ve talked a lot about the L line, but not a lot about the trains themselves, the “rolling stock,” as we call it in the biz. On the L line, those are mostly Kawasaki R143 (B Division) trains—equipped with (for you serious rail punks) Pneuphonic Horns, Bach-Simpson Speedometers, Bendix/King Radios, and WABCO, Single-Handle Master Controllers.

Awesome! Now, here is more info on these trains, which are a key part of what makes our modern signaling system work how it's supposed to. We talk with a few members from our team (we'll call them "car experts") to get the details:
L Project Weekly: So, these are Kawasaki trains. Are they made in Japan?

Car Experts: The R143s are built in Kobe, Japan (home of Kobe beef), Lincoln, Nebraska (home of beef, generally), and Yonkers, New York (home of the first Otis Elevator Company factory). Kawasaki Heavy Industries opened its Yonkers rail car plant in 1988, mostly to be within the MTA region. It also supplies rail cars to LIRR and Metro-North.

LPW: When were the R143s first built?

CE: The first cars were delivered in 2001. The total order was for 212 cars, which come in coupled 4-car sets. The R143 cars are numbered from 8101 to 8312. You can find the number at either end of the car. Tip: if you ever need to report something wrong with a car, snap or write down the car number.

LPW: Was there anything new or special about these L train cars?

CE: Glad you asked. They were part of our New Technology Train (NTT) fleet. They came with electronic strip maps, LED screens, and other features. Above all, they were the first of our subway trains to be equipped with Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) automated signaling. This means the R143s typically have the best on-time performance in the system. We also have modern signaling on the 7 line. We're currently working on it in a stretch of the Queens Boulevard Line. And we're pushing forward to make a lot of progress in the coming months to bring modern signaling to the Culver Line in Southern Brooklyn, too.
LPW: How big is the subway car?

CE: Each R143 car is about 10 ft. wide, and 60 ft. 6 in. long. Fun coincidence, that length is exactly the same distance a major league pitcher throws from the mound to a batter standing at home plate.

It is a B Division train, so it’s wider than our A Division trains, which are about 8 ft. 9 in. wide. The two divisions were originally built as separate subway systems, and the tunnels are different widths. Both have the same rail gauge. But B Division trains can’t fit on the narrower A Division lines, and the reverse doesn’t work, because the narrower trains would have an unsafe platform gap. Complicated? Tell us about it!

LPW: How much do the R143 cars weigh?

CE: They actually come in two different types and weights. But we’ll just say the main type weighs in at 83,700 lbs empty and 120,700 lbs full of passengers.

LPW: Wow. So that’s, um, about 43,300 lbs. of passengers per full car, right?

CE: Yes, about four African elephants worth of straphangers. Each full R143 car, of this type, holds 42 seated passengers and 198 standing passengers, or 240 passengers total. The typical L train will have 8 cars, so that’s 1,920 passengers per full train. Meaning it takes 1.5 full L trains to fill Carnegie Hall.

LPW: So, by my calculations, the audience in a sold-out Carnegie Hall performance weighs about 64,950 lbs, right?

CE: Music is not our area of expertise.

LPW: One last thing. It seems your subway car models all start with R followed by a number. Why is that?

CE: Beginning with the IND subway system (what we now call the B Division, along with the BMT subway system), all the car contract numbers began with R and have just stayed that way, from R1 up to the forthcoming Kawasaki R211. Some people say the R stands for Rapid Transit. Some say it stands for Rolling Stock. No one is sure.

LPW: Well, the good news is that none of that matters, as long as these cars enable that modern signaling to work! Thanks to our car experts for their insight on how this ecosystem of updated signaling infrastructure actually all works together.

L Project service calendar: If you're an A/C/E customer, note March 13-16 weekend

It's not because of L Project work, but it will impact your L Project service alternatives, so we wanted to make sure you know there will be no trains at A/C/E stations between 59 St-Columbus Circle and W 4 St on March 13-16 weekend

The signal equipment in this area is really old, and we've been doing a lot of small, maintenance fixes lately to keep it running before we start implementing modern signaling. But it’s gotten to the point where service is not reliable and so we’re being proactive by putting a more permanent fix in place before things get worse.

This means that if you're taking an L train westbound, make those transfers BEFORE you get to 8 Av, because the only train running at that station will be the L.
Upcoming L Project service changes

Mar 20-23 weekend: No L service from 8 Av to Broadway Junction.
Find your alternate service options here→

Health tips: Precautions against coronavirus

We are taking steps related to the coronavirus, specifically named COVID-19. This includes giving you the latest information and advice we're getting—because one of the best ways to keep a healthy subway and bus system is to have healthy subway and bus customers. 

Based on guidance we've received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the top precautions we're advising customers to take now:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you're experiencing symptoms and have traveled to areas of concern (or have been in contact with someone who has), call ahead to your health-care provider before you go in in person.
Click the button below for our current guidance about this for more info. We'll keep it updated, so check back periodically.
Get your health tips here→

Glamour shot of the week: 1924, meet 2020

The 1 Av Station opened in 1924, including this entrance on the southwest corner of 14th St and First Avenue in Manhattan. We are fully redoing it for this project, including replacing the original structural beams. You can still see the original bricks here as we install the new ADA-compliant stairs.
Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / February 17, 2020

Construction look-ahead: Week of 2/29/2020

Yes, we still have more conduit to install. And we're making progress on that discharge pipe testing we featured in the last issue. Here's what we have going on this week:
  • Install fire alarm conduit and the alarm equipment at 1 Av
  • Install conduit for: announcement system at Bedford Av, fiber optic monitoring cable and digital information screens
  • Test the negative return rails
  • Install heat trace boards at the two fan plants
  • Put the finishing touches on tile and platform edge work at 1 Av
  • Test the new discharge pump with pressure testing
  • Install new pipes and gauges at the pump room
  • Continue installing tunnel "no clearance" signs (the panels that have red and white diagonal stripes)
  • Pull and install positive cable for the circuit breaker house
See our full construction plan→

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  • Member since
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, March 1, 2020 8:22 PM

Dave haven't followed this thread too much.  Wonder if the tunnel safety improvements listed in this link were applied to the tunnel bores ? 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, March 1, 2020 10:22 PM

Earlier links discuss the new safety communications installation,  plus improved emergendy lighting etc.  New glameproof concrete is used where concrete is used, but cannot be used to replace the concrete of the original tunnel constuction.

There has never been any instance of a New York City electric subway or elevated train bursting into flames.  Not since the first electrification of the elevateds starting in 1901.  The same applies to electric commuter trains, starting with the first LIRR MUs on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 1904.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, March 7, 2020 12:04 PM
Hi there. This Sunday is International Women's Day, and we have cause to celebrate. Specifically, we're celebrating the contributions of our many women team members on the L Project. We interviewed four of our field engineers and construction quality managers to hear how they've raised the bar on this project and their advice for breaking gender barriers.

Plus, starting Monday through March 29, we'll be back working on the Manhattan-bound track. So you'll look for L train service on nights and weekends on the Brooklyn-bound side. Details on this and more below. Have a great weekend.
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Two of our women field engineers prepare for a delivery to the upgraded pump room.

Photo: Trent Reeves  / MTA / January 25, 2020

Yes, this is women's work

What do you think our L Project construction workers or engineers look like?

"I think most people still have the stereotypical male construction worker whistling at women in their heads when they think of construction. Most construction sites in today's world aren't like that anymore. When in full PPE [personal protective equipment] gear, we women get strange looks even today when the average person walking by sees us."

That's from Corie L., a quality manager on the L Project job. We talked with her and three other team members—Nicole D., Windy K. and Alexandra S.—to hear how they're paving the way for women in construction by making an impact on the L Project.

L Project Weekly: This is still a male-dominated industry. How do you overcome that?

Alexandra S.: From what I've seen, women generally have to work harder and do more to be acknowledged up front. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people just aren't used to it. It's changing, but it's still rare to see women in construction, especially out on a job site.

Windy K.: Yeah, when I tell people what I do and I say I am in construction the next comment is “You don’t look like you are in construction, do the guys actually listen to you?” My response is “what does a woman in construction look like?!” I've found that works and people start realizing that they have old biases. My coworkers respect me because I'm knowledgeable and competent just like anyone else.

LPW: So “knowledgeable and competent.” How have you seen that play out on the L Project specifically? 

Nicole D.: It might just be specific to the women we have working on the L Project, but I've noticed that the women tend to have had a variety of experiences. For example, I come from an estimating background prior to working in the field, so I think I was able to give a slightly different perspective especially when we worked on changes to drawings.

Corie L.: Yeah, I've worked in many manufacturing facilities, including a foundry, before coming to construction. 

LPW: Yes, change is certainly a theme of this project. Any examples come to mind of how you've put this expertise into practice on the L Project?

Windy K.: Many of the women on the project were excited to be a part of the new approach to the project. I know many of my colleagues jumped into doing things that weren't originally going to be a part of it.
One of those initiatives was efficiently managing the work each weekend and weeknight among all of the many subcontractors and where they would be working and how many work trains they would need, and then ensuring the operational feasibility of that with L service still running. That role wasn't going to be needed with a full tunnel closure. I raised my hand to take it on because I knew if we could get this right, we would be able to work as one team and potentially accelerate the schedule, too. 

Nicole D.: Yep, and I took the lead on the structural FRP panels and bench wall work in the tunnel. I worked closely with MTA and WSP team members, specifically a super strong female designer, to develop the layout, sizing, etc. Great teamwork and cool to apply technology that's been successful elsewhere to a new use case.

Corie L.: We also changed document management systems at one point, which is such a critical backbone to the project. I worked with Alexandra S. to formalize our processes so all parties knew how to use the new system and actually reevaluate all the old ways we were doing things that didn't make sense anymore. Our new system made it easier for all parties involved to do their jobs, and improved overall quality control.

LPW: You've really brought a perspective of resiliency to this resiliency project! What advice would you give to future female engineers and construction pros?

Windy K.: I wish it wasn't this way, but change is hard and takes time, and so construction is not for the faint of heart. I tell every woman in this field that you can't be easily insulted and instead focus your energy on establishing your voice and standing up for yourself. Representing yourself as a strong woman and a leader today is what will set in motion the shift to make it a little easier for the next generation of women. They can and deserve to be in this industry, and creating that environment will help increase representation, which will then continue to make it easier to show up and make the impact we know we can have.

Alexandra S.: For me, there have been lots of times when new people don't even make eye contact with me, assuming I'm not a contributor. So I make sure they don't walk away thinking that. When I jump in and share facts and details they hadn't even thought of, something shifts and the foundation of respect starts. I view it as that I'm chipping away at a bigger structural problem, knowing that I can make it a little easier on my current and future female engineers.

LPW: And how will you be celebrating this International Women's Day?

Nicole D.: It's Sunday? Well, we'll be working. 

LPW: Of course! Well, thank you for sharing all of your smarts and expertise with us and bringing it to the L Project. It sounds like it wouldn't be nearly as successful without all of you.