Last Wednesday night, the Republican-controlled State Senate blocked a vote on the legislation backed by State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. The legislators pinned the blame on the GOP, but said they won’t give up on the issue.
The Assembly passed the bill earlier in the week, 98-1.
“This bill would have no impact on the majority of our state, but for Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, it would make a real difference,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “Refusing to hold a vote on this bill simply makes no sense.”
If enacted, the legislation would authorize camera-enforced high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge, which legislators believe would help keep traffic moving. The bill would also direct the MTA to formalize its L train mitigation plans to address hardships faced by local small businesses.
“When the L train tunnel closes, hundreds of New Yorkers will have to find a new way to get from point A to point B,” Kavanagh said. “Commutes will change, businesses may lose customers, and New Yorkers will have to deal with more buses, cars and bikes on our streets, especially in Manhattan and Brooklyn on either side of the Williamsburg Bridge.
“This bill is not a panacea,” he added, “but it would make a difference.”
The L train is slated for closure in April 2019 to make necessary infrastructure repairs after significant damage from Superstorm Sandy. More than 225,000 riders who commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan daily must find another way to get around.
The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) expect most commuters to take other train lines, while others will take buses, bikes and even the ferry.
With just nine months until the shutdown, Kavanagh said the proper thing to do was passing the bill before the State Senate adjourned, rather than waiting until next session, which begins next January. By then final mitigation plans would already be in place.
“The Republican senators who failed to bring this measure to a vote may be very surprised when their constituents arrive in Brooklyn off the LIRR next April and don’t have a space on the subways,” Lentol said. “They ought to realize a well-managed project helps everyone.”