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E, F lines to see major service interruptions

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Thousands of weekend and nighttime straphangers will find their trips on E and F trains getting more complicated, not just for weeks but from now through 2012 so the MTA can modernize signal systems, install a new fan plant in Queens and perform all sorts of other work on the subways.

The inconvenience for E and F riders will go on throughout this year and extend into 2012 as well.

How inconvenient? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority gives this example:

On the weekend of Feb. 26-28, the E train will run on the F line between Roosevelt Avenue and West 4th Street. Free shuttle buses connect the Court Square/23rd Street-Ely Avenue, Queens Plaza and 21st Street-Queensbridge stations. The platforms at 23rd Street-Ely Avenue, Lexington Avenue-53rd Street and Fifth Avenue will be closed.

The MTA projects responsible for this upheaval:

• switch replacement and modernization of the signal system at the Fifth Avenue-53rd Street and Lexington Avenue-53rd Street stations

• construction of a new fan plant at Jackson Avenue in Queens

• replacement of tracks in the 53rd Street tunnel and at the 23rd Street-Ely Avenue and 47th-50th Streets stations

• connection of the Second Avenue subway, now under construction, to the Lexington Avenue-63rd Street stations

The MTA said perhaps as many as 225,000 people will be affected by the disruption in service.

“We will do our best to schedule these projects simultaneously so that we can minimize the number of service diversions affecting our customers,” an MTA statement said.

The E runs from the World Trade Center stop north to midtown Manhattan and then cuts across western Queens until it reaches Jamaica Center. The F stretches from Coney Island through Brooklyn and Manhattan, then swings east into Queens, where it passes through western Queens and ends at 179th Street in Jamaica.

The MTA said straphangers should watch for planned service changes posters and brochures in stations with travel alternatives. Riders may also visit the MTA web site at mta.info and click on “Planned Service Changes” or sign up for free e-mail and text message alerts. The MTA travel information line is 718-330-1234 between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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