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East River Gondola Lift Gains Attention Amid L Train Shutdown Worries

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With a possible subway shutdown looming in Brooklyn, the idea of a gondola lift between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side is getting a serious look.

Two years ago it was just a pipe dream, but now the man behind the East River Skyway Project says the idea is gaining much more interest.

"It is being seriously looked at by a variety of different parties," including some city officials, Daniel Levy told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

He believes it can be built before a possible shutdown of the L Train in 2019.

"A similar system was built in London. Their deadline was in the form of the Olympics. So they were able to construct their system in less than two years," Levy said.

The Skyway from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side can carry roughly 200,000 passengers a day -- slightly less than the subway.

"Roughly 5,000 people per hour and get them across the river in less than five minutes," Levy said.

Engineers estimate the cost at $134 million. Levy said it would be paid for by private investors.

The L Train runs beneath 14th Street in Manhattan and connects to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and several other Brooklyn communities going east to Canarsie.

With 225,000 daily riders, the L is critical to straphangers from Bushwick and Williamsburg where the commutes are already crowded.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to begin massive repairs to the Superstorm Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel in 2019, but the agency has yet to decide whether or not the line will be shut down completely or just during weekends.

In January, the Straphangers Campaign said losing the L train would be tougher than when the Montague Tunnel was out of service for R train repairs because there were more alternatives.

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