BY DEVIN GANNON
Thousands of straphangers on the Upper West Side and Astoria will have to rethink their daily commutes come spring, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans on closing some stations for up to six months for repairs and upgrades. The station makeovers fall under the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, a plan to improve the reliability and customer experience inside the subway system. Planned enhancements include installing digital countdown clocks at subway entrances, glass barriers, LED lighting and adorning station walls with artwork.
In Manhattan, stations at 110th, 86th and 72nd Streets on the B and C lines will close starting in April until September or October. Although more than 30,000 passengers use these stations daily, the MTA has not released a plan to mitigate the effects of the closures.
And all B-C stations between 59th and 125th Streets will be closed on 18 weekends and 40 weeknights. According to the West Side Rag, the MTA will place vinyl signs about the service updates in the stations about two or three weeks before the closure.
The Astoria- Ditmars Boulevard station will undergo a 14-month revamp beginning in April, adding to the number of subways undergoing major construction in the neighborhood. The N and W line at 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations have been closed since October for mostly cosmetic fixes, but will wrap up this summer (h/t Curbed NY). Later this year, Broadway and 39th Avenue stations will totally close for renovations. The upgrades to the four Astoria lines will cost $150 million.
Council Member Costa Constantinides, who represents the Queens neighborhood, has objected to the station upgrades at Ditmars Boulevard because the MTA has plans for cosmetic changes only, instead of adding a much-needed elevator to the station. Earlier this month, Constantinides rallied with other public officials, local business owners and community leaders against the planned construction. An online petition is currently being circulated, demanding better accessibility.
In January, the MTA board delayed a vote on construction contracts to renovate two stations in the Bronx and six in Manhattan after a member, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, objected. During the meeting, some members questioned why so much money was being put towards unnecessary, cosmetic improvements at stations that are in decent condition already, instead of funding signal and track repairs.
Three Upper West Side subway stations and one Washington Heights station will close in the coming months for repairs as part of the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, which was first announced two years ago. The West Side Rag first learned of the upcoming repair work at a Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting last week.
The stations in question are the 110th, 86th, and 72nd Street stations on the B and C lines, and the 163rd Street station on the C line. The first to shutter will be the Washington Heights one, which will close on March 12, 2018, and is expected to reopen sometime in September.
The 110th Street station will close on April 9, and reopen sometime in September as well; the 72nd Street station will close on May 7, and the 86th Street station on June 4, and both will reopen sometime in October.
Though the repairs will vary slightly at each station, they will include waterproofing, repairs to the floors and walls, the installation of countdown clocks, illuminated handrails, LED lighting, Wi-Fi, and Help Points, among other features.
The enhanced station initiative has previously come under fire from the de Blasio administration, which feels it is a vanity project especially when the subway is in the midst of a crisis. Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, added his voice to the criticism telling the West Side Rag that “the idea that purely aesthetic modifications will close three important stations is an outrage,” referring specifically to the Upper West Side stations.