A prominent NYC venture capitalist says a floating pontoon bridge could be the answer to the looming L train nightmare

L-Ternative BridgeThe Kickstarter’s creator estimates the bridge could be build in 8 months and recoup its cost with a $US1 toll.
  • In April 2019, New York City plans to shut down the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 15 months to focus on repairs.
  • Many commuters who use the L line, particularly those who live in low-income neighbourhoods, don’t have many convenient alternatives.
  • A Kickstarter is attempting to fill the void raising money to build a pontoon bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

In April 2019, New York City plans to shut down the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 15 months to focus on repairs for the tunnel that allows the line to travel under the East River. (The line will continue to operate in Brooklyn between Bedford Avenue and Rockaway Parkway.)

The looming shutdown will make life difficult for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on it, as the L line serves a number of commuters who don’t have many convenient alternatives.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) hopes to limit the damage by increasing service on other subway lines, creating dedicated lanes for buses and bikes, and opening a new ferry route, but some think those initiatives won’t be enough. Alternative proposals include the East River Skyway gondola, an inflatable tunnel, and, now, a floating pontoon bridge.

A Kickstarter is attempting to raise money for the pontoon bridge, dubbed the “L-Ternative Bridge,” which would connect Brooklyn and Manhattan. According to the proposal, the bridge would contain two lanes for buses and two paths where people could walk or ride their bikes, as well as a drawbridge that would allow ships to pass through it. The Kickstarter’s creator, Parker Shinn, estimates the bridge could be built in 8 months and recoup its costs with a $US1 toll.

Prominent startup investor Fred Wilson signalled his support of the proposal in a Twitter thread on Friday.

“I like this ideas of a Pontoon Bridge over the East River,”he wrote. “If you want to see NYC consider creative options like this, go to @kickstarter and back this project.”

The proposal had raised over $US4,000 of its $US50,000 goal as of Friday afternoon, though it cautions that the initial investment is designed to demonstrate interest in the plan, which would not be guaranteed to receive the necessary approval from New York City or the US Coast Guard. The deadline to reach its $US50,000 goal is March 16.

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