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Old Posted Mar 2, 2010, 8:13 PM
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Updated 03/01/2010 06:45 PM
Roosevelt Island Tram Shuts Down For Renovation

Roosevelt Island residents will have to use alternate transportation to get across the East River for the next six months.

The Roosevelt Island tram shut down early Monday morning for major repairs.

The $25 million project will replace the tram cabins and cables and will run on a "dual-haul" system, which allows each tram to operate independently in case of malfunction or maintenance. Currently, they both must travel at the same time.

Officials say the work is long overdue.

"It works fine, and we haven't had a problem since April 2006 when the tram got stuck over the river, but it's an aging machine, it's harder and harder to get parts, more parts break down, and pieces of it are showing big signs of wear," said Steve Shane, vice president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. "It's been in operation since 1976 and after 33.5 years, it really needs to be overhauled like any complicated piece of machinery."

The incident in 2006 stranded dozens of riders over the East River for hours. That mechanical failure sparked the talk for this new set of renovations.

Some Roosevelt Island residents said they still question the need for the overhaul.

"There is no need to replace the tram, spend $25 million of the state's money on a project that is essentially a boondoggle,” said Frank Farance of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association.

While the F train does stop on the island for its 14,000 residents, they say they expect more crowded trains and longer commute times. The four-minute tram ride carries two-million people a year.

"It's going to be terrible. It's going to be awful,” said a Roosevelt Island resident. “It's going to add at least a half hour to my commute, which is already long."

"We hope it's only six months and not, you know, nine months or a year before it comes back,” said another. “I have doubts.”

In addition to the F train and the Q102 bus, shuttle service to Manhattan and Queens Plaza has been added.

As for the old tram cabins, an official from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation says one may stay on the island as a historical exhibit. The other could wind up at a museum.

For more information on the repair work, go to

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