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Brooklyn Shop Owners Say L Train Tunnel Closure Will Hurt Business

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TWC News: Brooklyn Shop Owners Say L Train Tunnel Closure Will Hurt Business
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Local politicians and business owners protested in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Monday against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed L train closures.

Opponents of the plan say if the MTA suspends L train service on the weekends for repairs, it's going to inconvenience more than just subway riders.

The MTA is planning to shut down the L train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn for repairs. The construction will last for at least seven weekends in the first half of 2006.

The MTA has not provided dates for the tunnel closures yet.

The rest of the L line will remain open when the tunnel is shut down, but some in Brooklyn fear that a loss of weekend traffic from Manhattan will mean a big loss for business, as much as 75 percent of their weekend clientele.

“In the past my business has gone down at least 60 percent due to the L train closures,” said Simone Manwarring, the owner of Sam and Seb. “I do the bulk of my business on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it's just debilitating. You have to spend $20 to catch a taxi or you have to make a crazy convoluted journey of Queens in order to get into Manhattan."

"We do a gigantic brunch business on all days of the weekend. We do a good, healthy Friday and Saturday night business," said Teddy’s Bar and Grill owner Felice Kirby.

"We're only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as are the majority of the other 50 galleries in this neighborhood," added Karen Marston of Nurture Art Gallery.

New York City Transit says it will be shutting down only portions of the L line at a time, and will be providing shuttle buses to the more than 150,000 commuters who use the line.

The repairs will upgrade signals along the line to allow trains to be operated by computer, a project that's already far behind schedule. The MTA says if it doesn't work weekends, the repairs would take even longer to complete.

That’s little consolation for some Brooklyn residents.

“The MTA should show us the respect that we deserve,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “We're their customers and they have completely disregarded us."

Opponents of the plan are asking New York City Transit to coordinate with the community to choose weekends that would be the least disruptive, when sales and special events aren't planned.
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