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Cuomo On Canceling L Train Shutdown: 'We Needed An Idea Outside The Box'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After years of telling subway riders the L train would be shutting down for more than a year for repairs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says never mind.

Many L train riders were elated to learn the news Thursday. Others who had already moved out of Williamsburg or overhauled their lives in anticipation of the 15-month shutdown, were annoyed.

"We signed a lease to move out and found out today that the L train may not be shutting down, so we're upset," Gina Garan told CBS2.

It was less than a month ago that Cuomo toured the mile and a half-long Canarsie Tunnels, which are more than 100 years old, with engineers from Columbia and Cornell universities.

"We needed an idea outside the box," he said.

More: Reactions Mixed Over Sudden Scrapping Of L Train Shutdown Plan

On Thursday, with those engineers by his side, the governor announced the end of the so-called "L-pocalypse," canceling the tunnel closures after having come up with a new design to resolve the damage from Superstorm Sandy.

"It has been implemented in Europe," he said.

"The new system design is a highly integrated design and it achieves all functional outcomes," said Mary Boyce, Columbia University dean of engineering.

The benchwall, which currently holds power cables, is crumbling because saltwater sat there the longest.

The initial plan was to remove all 32,000 feet of benchwall by hand. But now, they're recommending the cables be racked and jacketed with polymers along one side of the wall.

READ: Governor's L Train Tunnel Presentation

"Wrapping it around the benchwall and strengthening the benchwall – this will last for decades," Lance Collins, Cornell University dean of engineering, said.

The head of the Riders' Alliance, however, has his doubts.

"You'll pardon transit riders for being skeptical that a last-minute Hail Mary idea cooked up over Christmas is better than what the MTA came up with over three years of extensive public input," John Raskin said in a statement.

Engineers say they will also be installing sensors inside the tunnels, so if there is any shifting in those power lines, they will immediately be alerted.

The MTA says it plans to use the same contractors it was initially using to repair the tunnels and hope to keep the project within its $500 million budget.

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