Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Assemblyman Brennan on the F Express

I reached out to Assemblyman Brennan's office last week because of an anonymous comment I received about six weeks ago:
Anonymous said...

Man, you need to do an interview with Assembly Member Jim Brennan so that he can explain to you why a restoration of the F express will NEVER happen on his watch. I suggest that you go talk to him and report back.

Far out, man. Buzzkill! That was quite an assertion, but since I asked for some clarification and never got it, I didn't take it very seriously. I had also heard from various people, that Brennan is a straight shooter, a shining example, honorable, etc. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I called up Brennan's office.

Turns out, Jim Brennan CAMPAIGNED on restoring the F Express back in the early 1980's. However, apparently vibration and property damage in the Windsor Terrace area have been a serious concern among some of Brennan's constituents. This led to moving the F express to a back burner, and focusing on getting the MTA to correct the vibration issues, with some results, but persistent problems for many properties along the line. The problem seems to be that the line runs too close to the surface in this swath.

My response was, we can fix the vibration problem with better tracking and trackbed; restoring the F Express still needs to be a priority.

Assemblyman Brennan followed up this week with a statement and with a copy of a letter he sent to the MTA this week, pasted below:

I support the concept of restoration of F express service and extending
the G train to Church Avenue and V train service along the F line in
Brooklyn. However, restoration of the F express must proceed cautiously,
with extensive testing and review of track conditions. The property
above the F train tunnel has experienced serious vibration and noise
problems over the years, primarily in Windsor Terrace but also in
Kensington and along the Ninth Street corridor. My office has intervened
four times over the past 20 years to get the M.T.A. to spend millions in
track renovation and repairs to protect adjacent homes and property from
damage due to vibration.

At this time we are sending a letter to the M.T.A. asking for extensive
testing of F express service prior to the beginning of construction on
the elevated platforms at Fourth Avenue and Smith-9th Street. Thank you
for your efforts to raise this issue.
And the letter:

Dear Mr. Sander,

Thank you for your response to my letter concerning F Line Express service. I do understand that the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation project will require use of the F Express tracks, beginning in 2008. However, the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation and bypass will have significant impact on service during the period of work and it is important for the community to have meaningful information about what to expect, especially in view of the longstanding vibration problems experienced by property owners along the F line in Windsor Terrace and Kensington.

I would therefore like to ask you to begin testing F Line Express service prior to the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation by running a limited number of express trains over these tracks over a period of 3-4 months. Such a study would provide valuable information about the current quality of the tracks, would test the impact of the service on surrounding communities, and would provide data for assessing the value and viability of re-introducing regular F Express Service after completion of the Culver Viaduct project. Given the chronic subway vibration problems in Windsor Terrace and Kensington communities, it is prudent to conduct this sort of controlled study before you begin running trains on the F Express tracks during the rehabilitation project.

I would like to invite you to come out to Brooklyn to brief the community boards and local elected officials about the service impact of the project and to begin a dialogue about restoration of the F Line Express. I would also appreciate a complete description of the schedule and impact of the rehabilitation projects, as well as a map of the location of the F Line Express tracks. Thank you for your consideration of this request.


James F. Brennan
That's one more elected official on board the F Express. I think Brennan's idea of testing the express tracks out before the Viaduct project gets under way is sound; if the trackage will need a major overhaul, let's get that out of the way while the Culver Viaduct rehab is under way.

You (probably) heard it here first.

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