Updated 5:15 p.m.
CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO
Another year, another round of No. 7 train suspensions.
The subway line will not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for over a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA, again upsetting residents, business owners and local politicians who are fed up with the constant disruptions.
From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.
The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”
All the service suspensions will be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, unless otherwise indicated.
There will be no service between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza on the following weekends: February 28 -March 3; March 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31; April 11-14; and May 2-5, 16-19.
On the following dates, in addition to no service between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza there will be reduced service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza: May 30-June 2; June 6-8, with service resuming Sunday, June 8 morning for the Puerto Rican Day Parade; June 20-23, 27-30; and July 18-21.
The MTA has also released a tentative service disruption schedule, which is expected to be confirmed with a future update later this year.
The No. 7 Flushing-bound service will run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74th Street-Broadway, with a stop at 61st Street- Woodside on the following weekends: August 22-25; September 19-22; October 3-6, 10-13; and October 17-20, 24-27.
From November 7- 10 there will be no service between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza, reduced service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing-bound service will run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74th Street-Broadway, with a stop at 61st Street- Woodside.
From November 14-17, 21-24 there will be no service between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing-bound service will run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74th Street-Broadway, with a stop at 61st Street-Woodside.
In addition to these changes, No. 7 train service will be suspended between Mets-Willets Point and Flushing-Main Street between 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 15 and 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 18, and between 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 22 and 5 a.m. Monday, February 24.
“We have times this vital work to minimize impacts to customers, pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and to avoid dates with high projected ridership,” said Bianco. “This is far more work than can be completed during our overnight FASTRACK program, which was designed to accommodate typical subway maintenance. Work of this scope on the No. 7 line cannot be done overnight and requires more than 48 hours of continuous access to the tube and tracks.”
During the service suspensions, riders will be kept informed through notice and printed brochures, explaining the work and service changes, posted in the subway system, according to the MTA. NYC Transit will also offer a free shuttle bus along all close No. 7 stations.
Service on the N and Q train will be increased and riders could use either train at Queensboro Plaza or the E train at Court Square, according to the MTA. Riders can also transfer to the E, F or R for service to Manhattan at the 74 Street-Broadway station.
The suspensions are nothing new for those who have suffered through them for years.
But the familiarity doesn’t mean locals are not frustrated with the suspensions that have been taking place in the area on a regular basis for well over a decade.
Business owners are tired of potential financial losses and residents are sick of longer commutes.
Last fall, No. 7 train service did not operate between the Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza stations for five weekends.
“Unfortunately we’ve grown accustomed to the MTA screwing Long Island City,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.
“Businesses are suffering,” he added. “It’s not just the people in LIC, it’s people who are more and more coming to Long Island City.”
Gianaris said his office has suggested numerous “reasonable” alternatives to deal with the problem, for example a shuttle bus through the Queens Midtown Tunnel, but the MTA has refused to consider them and won’t give any answers as to why it won’t.
He will be rallying Friday with local elected officials, business owners and residents to call for a change.
“We’re going to continue to try to make the point to the MTA and the new administration, and hope that the new administration would do something about [the shutdowns],” said Gianaris.
“The multi-year, $550 million capital improvement project to replace the antiquated 50- to 90-year-old signaling system on the No. 7 line with state-of-the-art CBTC technology will continue into 2017,” the MTA said in a press release.