New York City Plans Overnight Subway Shutdowns

| by Michael Allen

The MTA in New York City announced that it plans to shut down entire sections of subway lines overnight in January 2012 for several different periods to complete track work and maintenance, rather than do the repairs in pieces on weekends.

Transit officials plan work on the Lexington Avenue line between Grand Central Terminal and Atlantic Avenue starting on Jan. 9. They will shut down parts of the 4, 5 and 6 trains between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for several days in a row.

During the shutdown, crews would repair tracks and signals, and perform a "thorough cleaning" of the roadbed, according to the MTA, which says the plan was created as a way to minimize its weekend disruptions, while also saving more than $1 million.

MTA New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast said: “We are one of the few transit systems that operate around the clock, so it’s always a challenge to find time to do work on the tracks, especially with ridership up on weekends and overnight."

“Closing segments of lines so that we can get in and get the work done quickly benefits everyone – it’s safer for workers, less disruptive for riders and gets projects done more quickly for everyone.”

The MTA projects a $1.3 million savings by shifting repairs to the overnight hours with lines completely shut down, compared to the current practice of squeezing in the work around less-frequent trains.

The MTA also hopes to reduce accidents. In recent years, several maintenance workers have been hit by trains while they performed construction jobs. Another safety enhancement from shutting down a line completely during work: the authority could shut off power to the third rail.

The agency estimates the new technique could tackle a project in nine days, compared to 36 days of disruptions on weekends.