Jun
05

$80 million overhaul for W. 96th St. station heads to a hearing

By · Published in 2007

Preliminary sketches of the new station show the shifting sidewalks and traffic patterns on Broadway. (Click to enlarge; Courtesy of the MTA)

Please note, the hearing mentioned below is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, and not Tuesday as the post originally implied. My fault.

Nearly one year ago, Community Board 7, the lords of the Upper West Side, overwhelmingly supported a plan to overhaul the northern entrances of the 96th St. stop on the IRT. Tomorrow, these plans — a drastic reconstruction of one of the system’s oldest stations — will inch one step closer to reality as the MTA hosts a public hearing on the proposed Station Access Changes.

Currently, the 96th St. station entrances are a bit of a disaster. Passengers have to enter on either the southwest or southeast corners of Broadway. They must walk down one narrow staircase to reach the turnstile area. After swiping through, riders then have to walk down another set of narrow staircases to each a tunnel underneath both the uptown and downtown platforms. Then, straphangers have to walk up yet another staircase to reach the platform.

Additionally, the entrance on the southeast corner of Broadway and 96th St. is open only during the day. Any nighttime passengers heading north must cross the street to get to an open entrance and then walk back that length to reach the uptown platform.

The plans to streamline station access and to make this high-volume station handicapped-accessible are, according to the MTA, as follows:

NYC Transit proposes to close the sidewalk stairs on the southwest and southeast corners of 96th and Broadway and to replace these entrances with a head house built on an expanded Broadway median between 95th and 96th Streets. The new head house will have stairs and elevators leading directly to the uptown and downtown platforms. This entrance will be open and staffed full time.

The sidewalk entrances need to close because the Broadway median must be expanded to make room for the head house. To allow for the widened median the Broadway sidewalks will be narrowed and the sidewalk area where the stairs are now will be eliminated.

This is an interesting plan, and it’s hard to come out against it at first brush. Most notably, these plans will provide elevator access (that is, handicapped access) to the first (or last) transfer point on the West Side IRT lines. It will also reduce the total elevation change for passengers from 43 feet (down-down-up) to just 19 feet (down). Furthermore, the four seven-foot wide staircases to the platform will replace the current two five-foot wide staircases thus reducing station congestion.

But on the other hand (or the “disbenefits,” as the MTA terms it) are the additional walking people will have to do above ground. The new structure will be fifty feet south of the current entrances and in the center of Broadway. The MTA claims that the two out of every three passengers who have to wait at a red light to cross Broadway will be delayed a whopping 26 seconds.

As a native of the Upper West Side, though, I’m much more concerned with the decrease in available sidewalk space. The new plans call for moving Broadway nine feet on either direction to compensate for the wider island in the center of Broadway. While the sidewalks would be 15 feet wide, that’s a big decrease from their current width of 23 feet.

But the benefits of the station house should outweigh one shorter block. It will be easier and faster to enter one of the more crowded stations on the West Side. Meanwhile, above ground, the station will resemble the new structure at 72nd St. The same firm is signed on for this project, and the plans call for a wider median with a seating area at 96th St. leading to the station entrance in the middle of the block. That sounds good to me.

MTA Public Hearing: Station Access Changes, Wednesday, June 6, 6 p.m., MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue – Fifth Floor

A more detailed bird’s eye view of the proposal for Broadway between 95th and 96th Streets. (Click to enlarge.)

96ththreeblocks480.jpg

The three-block plan showing how traffic patterns would change approaching the busy 96th St. (Click to enlarge.)

stationview480.jpg

A cut-away view of the proposed station. (Click to enlarge.)



Categories : MTA Construction

13 Responses to “$80 million overhaul for W. 96th St. station heads to a hearing”

  1. Marsha says:

    As a long-time West Sider, I applaud the MTA’s renovation plan of the antiquated 96th Street station. I just hope the Community Board specifically states that there will be no outdoor cafes, the ultimate sidewalk poachers, allowed on the shortened sidewalks between 95th and 96th Streets.

  2. wayne's world says:

    As a long-time West Sider, I applaud the MTA’s renovation plan of the antiquated 96th Street station. I just hope the Community Board specifically states that there will be no outdoor cafes, the ultimate sidewalk poachers, allowed on the shortened sidewalks between 95th and 96th Streets.

  3. Brian says:

    The plan shouldn’t include a narrowing of the sidewalk on both sides of broadway. With people having to wait ‘an average of 26 seconds’ to cross Broadway, more room will be needed on the sidewalks for those people to wait. Otherwise a great plan.

    And a correction: Since last year, the SE corner exit has been open 24/7 because of a request from Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell.

  4. Thanks for the correction, Brian. Since departing the Upper West Side for the hills of Park Slope, I missed that request from O’Donnell.

  5. Brian says:

    One more thing, the hearing is actually being held tomorrow (Wed, June 6).

    http://mta.info/mta/news/hearings/index.html

  6. One more thing, the hearing is actually being held tomorrow (Wed, June 6).

    Gah. Corrected.

    This was one of those weeks where I kept thinking it was the day after it really was. Fixed. Sorry about that.

  7. Victoria says:

    Hahahah they wrote the same thing!

  8. Becca says:

    But I need my 26 seconds! Actually, I’ll be quite pleased to not have the “turning the corner from Gristedes” smash into exiting subway passengers.

    Now if only someone would take over Nobody Beats the Wiz, the area would be set.

  9. Nestor Kermes says:

    Now we can see the overly narrowing effect on the packed sidewalks for the sake of a dangerously misplaced cutesy entrance smack dab in the middle of heavily trafficked and accident-rich Broadway, just where idling vehicles spewing toxins franticly race engines to escape New York. A traffic mess has been made worse for what, another mini-train shed begat by profligate-spending MTA’s edifice neurosis. Best to preserve the easily accessible sidewalk entrances, convert the sunk-barrel into another sleepy-hollow quaint museum like the oldster at the north. Sure provide an elevator for slow movers, where the comix musical ambience will be perfect for a belly-laughing overlook, healthily insulated by thick glass from the shrieking encaved miserables.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] on either side of Broadway while maintaing all of the existing street space for motor vehicles. Second Avenue Sagas […]

  2. […] part of a plan to substantiall rehabilitate and renovate the IRT stop at 96th St. and Broadway, construction crews have unveiled a new look for the wall […]

  3. […] 96th St. station on the West Side IRT is currently a mess. As part of an $80 million overhaul of this heavily-trafficked station, the MTA is constructing a brand new station house in the middle […]

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