Brooklyn Boro

Jubilant commuters celebrate quiet re-opening of Clark St. subway

Spirits lifted by new state-of-the-art elevators

May 5, 2022 Beth Heller
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A tweet from D33 City Council Member, Lincoln Restler, was the only indication Clark Street Subway station had quietly reopened at about 6:00 pm on Wednesday night. From the street, no one would know. The St. George Hotel is still enshrouded in scaffolding and mesh, the construction shed remains parked out front, and the businesses had closed for the evening. 

For a time, the only people inside were MTA workers clad in orange vests and members of the Forte Construction Corp team, the contractor hired to replace the three notoriously decrepit elevators. As riders began to emerge from the depths, pedestrians on Henry Street had their curiosity piqued by the activity inside.

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A construction worker for Forte, the company that did the work on Clark street station, showed off his company logo.

Esther Davis poked her head into the station, then walked through the doors. Her smile widening, she threw her arms skyward and exclaimed, “Oh my G-d, I’m so happy, it’s open again! Esther told The Eagle she lives in Crown Heights and since November has “had to walk through all kinds of weather” from Court Street to her job here in Brooklyn Heights. Friends Jamie Johnson and Kate McCormick, who have lived in Brooklyn Heights for eight and thirty-four years respectively, high-fived the construction team and took a quick ride on the elevators to experience them for themselves.

Speaking under conditions of anonymity, the team explained they installed the latest high-speed “traction” elevators with a 10,000lb weight capacity and updated communications and fire alarms. According to the Stanley Elevator company website, “Traction elevators use a counterweight to offset the weight of the cab and occupants. With this design, the motor doesn’t have to move as much weight, making it much more energy-efficient than hydraulic systems.”

And each member was prouder than the next. They gushed the project had been “completed in record time, in just five and a half months,” citing that in the past, it would have normally taken the MTA at least a year. Supply chain issues threatened to derail the project too. Vital equipment languished on cargo ships during the boondoggle at Southern California ports. But, to get the job done, Forte employed three eight-hour shifts who worked 24 hours a day.

After such a ringing endorsement of their handiwork, this correspondent took a trip to the platform and back. The ride was indeed smooth and steady, the cars bright and clean. Best of all, there’s no bounce at the bottom, ominous creaking, or groaning, and the doors no longer threaten to crush passengers. The weary commuters in my car were all smiles behind their masks.

When I returned, Forte’s Project Manager shared Mayor Adams will be on hand to officially re-open the station sometime next week. In advance of the ceremony, MTA will remove the barriers, construction shed, and equipment. On Monday, Forte starts work on replacing the nearby Court Street elevators. That station will remain open and trains will continue to stop at Court Street.

Showing community love for the Clark Street Station: about half a century ago this mural as installed as part of an upgrade to the Clark Street subway entrance on the Henry Street side.

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