Two elevators coming to the N line during massive rehabilitation

October 4, 2013 Denise Romano
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A shiny new Sea Beach line is coming to a subway near you.

The stations at the southern end of the N line are going to get a complete rehabilitation, including two elevators, during a massive, $300 million, two-year construction project slated to begin in the spring of 2015.

Representatives from the MTA gave a presentation at a joint Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting between Community Boards 10, 11 and 13 at CB 10’s district office on Tuesday, October 1.

“We are in the design phase. This is an overall view of what the conditions are and what we can do to remedy them,” said Melissa Farley, assistant director of government and community relations for the MTA.

MTA Architect David Foell presented preliminary plans of the structural and architectural overhaul for the stations south of 59th Street: Eighth Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, Kings Highway, Avenue U and 86th Street.

The control houses, which are uniform down the line, will be “fully renovated in a historically correct manner,” with new windows, canopies, lighting and mosaics. The houses will also get new waterproof rooftops.

“If you have been inside, you know what it’s like,” Foell said of the leaking roofs.

Inside the houses, the existing tiles will be restored.

“We have a tile manufacturer very good at replicating tiles true to the original,” Foell said, adding that ceilings will be repainted and additional turnstiles will be added to some stations, specifically Eighth Avenue, which is the most heavily used.

Token booths will also be moved over to the side so commuters can walk straight through to the turnstiles instead of going around the structure.

The deteriorating passageways between the control house and platform will also get an overhaul at each station.

“Floors and walls will be demolished. They are structurally collapsing and need to be rebuilt,” Foell explained, adding that the exterior barrel arches that cross over the tracks will also be redone.

Instead of concrete walls surrounding the overpasses, there may be a glass or mesh screen so straphangers can see through. Those walls and floors will also be waterproofed.

The “horrendous structural conditions” of all the platforms will also be remedied by replacing all of the walls, floors and roofs.

“There will be brand new cement and properly aligned platform edges,” Foell said. “A hundred percent of the stairs will be replaced. These go completely in the garbage.”

A waterproofing system that injects grout into the walls to stop leaks behind the wall will also be added to all station platforms. Walls will be re-plastered and re-painted and some badly damaged columns will be replaced.

There will also be a new PA system, with glowing blue “help points” or intercom system, with technology from this century.

The parapet walls that are above the platforms will also be worked on. Since they are technically located in homeowner’s backyards, work will be done during weekdays. A work train will be parked on a non-live track and workers will climb to the top of the train and work from the track side. Foell said that homeowners will be getting notices within the next four to five months to inform them of the construction.

“We will be taking feedback,” Foell said, noting that the MTA is also “looking at ways of protecting this side to impede graffiti.”

In addition to this overhaul, two stations will be made ADA accessible: Eighth Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue, with an elevator and ramp system.

“We are lucky to have lots of space around the stations [to make room for the ramp]. It’s your natural path of travel; you don’t need to go out of your way,” Foell explained. “Everyone can use the ramp. It will relieve overcrowding during rush hour.”

Foell said that the MTA would look into opening the Seventh Avenue exit at the Eighth Avenue station, which currently serves as a staging area for the Transit Authority.

The New Utrecht Avenue station will be a completely accessible transfer to the D train, with elevator access to all platforms. The mezzanine area will be rebuilt completely with a new floor.

But all of this rehab magic can’t happen without some service disruption.

All southbound stations will be closed during the construction, except at Eighth Avenue and Bay Parkway, where temporary platforms will be installed at so straphangers can transfer to a northbound train to get off at a skipped stop.

“These are some pretty horrendous conditions that will take some time to remedy,” Foell said, adding that no work will be done on weekends and during nights. “It’s the best in efficiency of construction and in terms of disruption to the neighborhood.”

Members of the community boards said they were “excited” about the news, but also had constructive feedback.

Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11, noted that flood protection would be a good idea for the southernmost stations, which were completely flooded during Sandy when the Coney Island Creek rose and flooded the 86th Street station.

“The MTA will look into it. We will maintain it so water from the sidewalk just doesn’t run in,” Foell said.

Foell said that, during construction, the MTA would also look into closing the empty lot off of Bay Parkway which is a magnet for trash and graffiti, at the request of Elias-Pavia.

Larry Stelter, a CB10 member, asked if a temporary platform could be added to New Utrecht Avenue since it’s a “big transfer point.” Foell said he would ask operational planning.

CB10 member Jean Ryan was all smiles about the two ADA accessible stations.

“I am really happy that we are going to get access at two of the stations,” said Ryan, who uses a wheelchair and has not ridden the subway since 1994.

“Lots of people prefer ramps instead of steps,” she went on. “I don’t know anyone without a disability that has a problem with them as long as they are wide enough. I am sure the elevators will be popular.”

CB10 Traffic and Transportation Committee Chair Doris Cruz noted, “I am very happy that this is in motion. I hope the stairs [to the station platforms] will hold up until then,” she said.

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