Focus on Sixth Avenue Lines

Enhanced Subway Station Initiative Hits Close To Home

Updated 16 weeks ago David Stone
Fine art street photography: 6th Avenue/57th Street Station, one of several to get major upgrades this year.
Fine art street photography: 6th Avenue/57th Street Station, one of several to get major upgrades this year.
© Deborah Julian Fine Art

At last week's MTA Board Meeting, major station overhaul contracts were approved for six stations in the next stage of an initiative to upgrade aging locations throughout the subway system. Average station age, system-wide, is 95 years, but those on this year's list are newer. And this year, they're all in Manhattan. Upgrades are expected to shut down some stations completely for six months.

Most likely to alter Roosevelt Island commutes is enhancement of the 6th Avenue/57th Street Station, the F Train's nearest Midtown stop.

Northern terminal for what's now the F Line until the late '80s, when the 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River brought service to Roosevelt Island, the station was originally built to allow riders to continue along a new line to Lincoln Center. There, they'd connect with a 63rd Street crosstown, similar to the L, for transit to Queens.

The inevitable funding shortages eventually led to the reconfiguration we use today, F Trains curling instead under a lower corner of Central Park to 63rd and Lex.

We can only hope the upgrade will mean a change in the stairway design that currently requires exiting passengers to go in a direction opposite of wherever they hope to exit before escaping to the street.

Also closing on the F Line will be my old stop, the busy 23rd Street Station, where I got off for work in my early years in New York. Trips to Trader Joe's, Eataly and other popular stores in the vicinity will require less easy alternatives.

In general, opening of the Q Line will mitigate inconveniences.

Apart from the 28th Street Station on the 6 Line, other full closures will be in northern Manhattan, including 3, B and D Train stops.

Both 34th Street Stations, on the 6th and 8th Avenue Lines, will also undergo enhancement, but neither is expected to be shut down completely as the work progresses.

Dates have not been set for any of the work yet. Last year, the MTA caught holy hell for giving riders only 5 days notice for shutdowns in Brooklyn. Under new New York City Transit President Andy Byford, more rider-sensitive communications are anticipated, this time around.

Details of the planned closures were first reported in Time Out New York.

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