L Train Riders Should Have Real-Time Air Quality Reports, CB Says

WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN — As night and weekend closures of the L train for construction grow closer, local community board members are asking for real-time air quality monitors at the subway line’s stations so riders can decide if its safe enough to board over the next year.

Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s Community Board 1 voted this week to send a letter to the MTA asking that some form of air quality monitoring be provided to L train riders during the upcoming year of construction to fix the Canarsie tunnel and upgrade the subway line.

The letter comes after a somewhat heated discussion at the board’s last meeting, where MTA officials laid out the details of the new plan, which will only slow down the L during nights and weekends instead of shutting it down for a full 15 months.

Board members worried that the time between construction at night and the busy morning commute would not be enough to clear the harmful dust kicked up by construction, the same dust that has caused some MTA workers to wear face masks.

“(We don’t think) that cops and MTA workers and construction workers wearing ventilator masks and the public not wearing masks is a good option,” said Eric Bruzaitis, chair of the board’s transportation community. “Before people go down in to the station in the morning hours they should see some real time reporting.”The board voted unanimously to send a letter asking that dust particulate devices be set up at each of the stations with the results either displayed at the street level, or online through Link NYC. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney also sent a similar letter to the MTA, Bruzaitis told the board.

MTA officials had told board members at their last meeting that the dust levels have not yet reached a point where they are hazardous, even after demolition during March’s weekend closures. Staff are not being advised to wear masks but some have chosen to do so on their own, said Matt Best, a representative with the MTA Capital Construction.

Still, many board members were worried that those more sensitive to dust would rather know when they might want to consider another option to taking the L train.

“There are people that are susceptible to dust…and have health issues, they really need to know,” Bruzaitis said.

Best had said that the contractor is still working on ways to mitigate the dust further and that their plan to clear the dust is under review by the State Department of Health, The State Department of Environmental Protection and an independent health expert.

The weeknight and weekend service changes on the L are set to begin April 26. During those times — 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights and from 8 p.m. Fridays to 5 a.m. Mondays — trains will run every 20 minutes between Brooklyn and Manhattan and every 10 minutes within the borough.