Aug
22

Brooklyn council members to vote down fare hike over F express plan

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culverviaduct.jpg

The construction on the Gowanus Viaduct is quickly becoming an issue in the F Express plan. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Everyone likes the F Express plan. Over 3600 people have signed the petition, and MTA board members have voiced their support. The plan would even give meaning to the neglected V train. But the MTA is throwing up a roadblock.

Over and over again, the MTA keeps saying that construction on the Gowanus Viaduct renders this plan impossible until 2012. Now, those of us who have been most vocal in the push to get this plan approved have never really understood how the work on the viaduct renders express tracks — unused tracks that would cost literally billions of dollars to build today — out of service.

Yesterday, we learned, via the Kensington (Brooklyn) blog, that two city council members agree with us. The MTA just hasn’t adequately explained why the F Express plan must suffer. The two politicians — Simcha Felder of Borough Park and Dominic Recchia of Coney Island — write:

The MTA has said that an express F train cannot be considered until 2012, upon competition of the Gowanus Viaduct restoration. As you know, in addition to the two unused express tracks between Bergen St. and Church Ave., a single unused track exists thereafter up to Kings Highway. Anyone who has ridden the elevated portion of the Culver line has seen the single express track between Church Ave. and Kings Highway used sporadically despite the scheduled Gowanus Viaduct project. We fail to understand what relevance the Viaduct has to the elevated express track between Church Ave. and Kings Highway, or, for that matter, the underground express tracks beyond the Viaduct, from 7th Ave. to Church Av. Additionally, we remain unconvinced that the MTA’s 2012 goal is reasonable timeframe for the completion of work on the Viaduct, and, transitively, full restoration of express service.

The MTA has also cited insufficient demand as an argument against restoration of express service on the F line. Based on the community’s loud voicing of their concern over this matter, including an online petition with more than 3,500 signatures, we believe the demand will be particularly evident when service is improved, and the MTA is offering its riders a more reasonable commute. At a time when the city’s leadership is attempting to convince more New Yorkers to step out of their cars and into mass transit, a fare hike without tangible improvements would severely undermine this effort.

While, as the Gotham Gazette notes, it’s not politically risky for anyone to oppose a fare hike, Felder and Simcha are using their platform to make a good point. We want more information on the Gowanus Viaduct. Will it really take until 2012? Is there no way to accommodate express service on the rest of the BMT Culver line in Brooklyn?

This line would have a positive impact on many people’s lives in Brooklyn. It should happen, and we shouldn’t have to sit through anymore vague answers as the MTA stalls on another construction project.



11 Responses to “Brooklyn council members to vote down fare hike over F express plan”

  1. Gary says:

    Blogger is down this morning. Good thing you host your own site!

    Felder has been really great on this issue. His communications guy is fantastic, keeps you in the loop, reaches out frequently.

  2. KidTwist says:

    Small point: It’s not the Culver viaduct they’re working on. It’s the IND viaduct through South Brooklyn. The Culver line is the old BMT elevated structure from Ditmas Avenue to Coney Island.

  3. I should call it the Gowanus Viaduct. That’s its proper name. I’ll fix it.

  4. Express F Train says:

    I believe that making the elevated structure from the Church Ave Portal to Kings Highway a four track structure. This will allow express and local service in both directions anytime. A fourth track can be built on the side of the southbound local track from Ditmars Avenue to Kings Highway. Local stations will be reconstructed so that they will face the new track instead of the old local track which will be an express track. However I am not sure if the MTA would consider it. But if it does, then hopefully all Dual Contracts era former BMT elevated structures would be converted (I am talking about the Astoria, Culver and West End) to four track structures.

  5. Scott says:

    I believe the issue with an F express and the viaduct project is that once the project starts, the local tracks are going to be taken out of service and all trains will be running on the express tracks.

    As I understand it, there will be a hard track connection made just south of the carroll street portal that will shift trains from the local to express tracks (and vice versa in the opposite direction). Platform extensions will be built at Smith-9th and 4th Ave allowing riders to use those stations even though trains will be on the express tracks. Because the express tracks are being used for service, the G cannot turn around at 4th avenue and is being extended to Church where it can turn around.

    The problem is that there is not enough capacity on the tracks for the F (as it is currently routed), the G, and an F or V express to all use the same tracks.

  6. Marc Shepherd says:

    Yup, I thought that was the case. The renovation of the Howard Beach–JFK station was similar (local tracks closed; platforms temporarily extended to reach the express tracks).

    Express F Train: budgets aren’t infinite. Before the MTA would add a fourth track to the existing 3-track lines, someone needs to demonstrate that there’s a demand for that capacity, and that it’s more pressing than other subway investments we could make. It’s unlikely you could make that case. On the lines you mentioned, the heavy demand is mostly during rush hours in the peak direction, and a 3-track configuration can satisfy that.

    What’s more, the West End and Astoria lines currently have no express service at all, and I haven’t heard of any community desire to provide them. The Astoria Line actually had express service a few years ago, and the community asked the MTA to change it back to all-local. Demographics have changed since the line was built, and the local stations are now more popular than they originally were.

  7. F Express says:

    Well, if the Astoria Line is four tracked then the express tracks can link to LaGuardia Airport meaning a possible one seat ride to Midtown and Downtown.
    But again, this is too optimistic for a budget tight MTA.

  8. Todd says:

    What specifically are they doing the work on? Why will it take some long to complete?

  9. Marc Shepherd says:

    Okay, I do agree that if the Astoria Line were extended to LaGuardia Airport, then a fourth track would be extremely useful. But the LaGuardia Airport Subway Extension was basically mothballed after Mayor Giuliani left office. It’s not on the MTA’s radar screen any more, and many existing projects, such as the Second Avenue Subway, aren’t yet fully funded.

  10. Express F Train says:

    havent i said it was too optimistic already?

  11. Scott says:

    Todd – “What specifically are they doing the work on? Why will it take some long to complete?”

    They are rehabilitating the entire viaduct structure (which is steel and concrete). The concrete is in such bad shape that chunks were falling off, which is why the entire structure is wrapped in that black netting.

    In addition to rehabbing the structure itself, they are also rehabbing the track bed structure, installing new rails, signals, and switches (to make everything CBTC ready), they are doing a full station rehab of smith-9th Street and installing elevators, and making key repairs to 4th avenue which, as I understand it, includes replacing the canopy and doing some repairs to the platforms and rehabbing the tower at 4th Ave.

    I am not sure if this is going to be performed in conjunction with the tunnel lighting projects that are taking place between E.Bway and Carrol and 4th Ave to Church.

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