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Solve the upcoming L train shutdown and you could win $1,000

Lauren Rothman

Since the new year, North Brooklynites have fretted over the imperiled existence of their lifeline: the L train that connects them to Manhattan. Even under the best of circumstances, the L can be highly undependable, so things only got worse in January, when the MTA announced that the line, whose tunnels were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, would need to be at least partially shut down for repairs throughout 2019.

The agency is still deciding exactly how to proceed with this commuting nightmare, but, in the meantime, a design nonprofit is challenging city architects and artists to come up with a viable transportation alternative that will keep commuting between the two boroughs (relatively) hassle-free during the as-long-as-18-months-shutdown. The grand prize? A cool, well, grand.

The Van Alen Institute, a Chelsea-based organization that promotes cross-disciplinary design solutions aimed at improving urban life, recently announced its “L Train Shutdown Charette” competition, to be held this Sunday at the Institute’s headquarters on West 22nd Street. All day long, the entrants—teams of architects, urban planners and artists—will discuss the merits (and weaknesses) of their strategies for moving the thousands of city dwellers who will be affected by the shutdown. The winning team—one whose plan not only will work but which solves the problem in a creative, collaborative way—will pocket $1,000.

Sorry, problem-solving New Yorkers: the deadline for entry in the competition came and went last night. But we can’t wait to hear the results, and learn how to get to our favorite Williamsburg watering holes without the aid of our beloved L train.


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