MTA approves more than $200M in cosmetic improvements for eight subway stations

February 23, 2018

Two stations at 34th Street will be renovated; photo via dog97209 on Flickr

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved on Thursday a $213 million plan to rehabilitate eight subway stations, despite objections from the authority’s city representatives. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion Enhanced Station Initiative, the stations–six in Manhattan and two in the Bronx– will get outfitted with USB ports, LED lighting, digital countdown clocks and artwork (h/t New York Times). The board first delayed the vote on the construction contracts in January after board members, appointed by Mayor de Blasio, questioned the necessity of these cosmetic improvements when the system’s infrastructure remains in desperate need of repair.

The governor’s $1 billion initiative includes 33 stations selected by the MTA to receive renovations. During January’s board meeting, city officials said they had no input in the station selection. The city’s Department of Transportation, Polly Trottenberg, brought a list to the meeting comparing the stations the city said needed improvements with the list of 33 stations selected by the governor. Just three overlapped.

Despite pushback from city officials, the board approved the construction contracts. Renovations are planned for the 23rd Street and 57th Street stations of the Sixth Avenue line and the 28th Street and 145th Street stations along the Lexington Avenue line. The Bronx stations getting upgrades include the 174th-175th and 167th Street stations.

Two Penn Station stations for the A,C, E and 1,2,3 lines will be refurbished. It will be the only station out of the eight approved to not close during renovations.

Advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities expressed frustration that the MTA’s renovation plan did not include making the stations more accessible. As 6sqft reported last fall, just 117 subway stations out of 472 are fully accessible. This is a huge problem for about 800,000 New Yorkers who have a physical disability.  And, to make matters worse, 80 percent of subway elevators and escalators do not receive necessary maintenance, according to a report by the city’s comptroller released last May.

Jon Orcutt, the director of communications and advocacy for the research group Transit Center, told the Times in an email: “Thirty years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, three-quarters of New York’s subway stations remain closed to people who can’t use the stairs.”

Orcutt added, “Despite NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s ‘new understanding’ of this program, there is still no MTA strategy, plan or goal for taking NYC subway accessibility forward in the 21st century.”

This spring, renovations will start at stations on the Upper West Side and in Astoria, temporarily closing some of them for up to six months. Stations affected include 110th, 86th and 72nd Streets on the B and C lines in Manhattan and the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard, 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, Broadway and 39th Avenue stations in Astoria.

[Via NY Times]


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  1. S

    This is a vanity project for Gov. Cuomo as he prepares his record for his Presidential bid. While these improvements are good and should be done, the money should not be prioritized ahead of signal improvements and rehabilitation must include accessibility. This is really poor spending of public dollars.