A busy subway tunnel linking Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York is to close for 18 months to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The closure, which won’t happen before 2019, will allow engineers to carry out essential repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel – one of the worst affected tunnels on the network.

MTA had looked at a three-year partial closure of the tunnel which would have retained the L train link across the East River, albeit with a severely disrupted service.

MTA chairman and chief executive Thomas Prendergast said: “While the MTA always looks to avoid service disruptions, there is no question that repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel are critical and cannot be avoided or delayed.

“Throughout this process we have committed to engaging the community and listening to all concerns so that we can address them as we prepare for this necessary work.”

He added: “We are committed to working with the community just as closely as we develop ways to add service to help minimise the impacts of the closure.”

MTA said the feedback it had received had been largely in favour of a full closure and that it will now begin the search for the design and construction partners to deliver the repairs.

Nine tunnels, including Canarsie, were flooded during the storm in 2012. MTA has been able to complete some repairs during normal maintenance windows but longer closures have been required to rebuild the Montague Tunnel on the R line and the G line tunnel beneath Newton Creek.

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