F Express Plan on the tracks to nowhereBy
As we’ve heard for some time now, due to work on the Culver Viaduct, the F Express train won’t be a feasible alternative until 2012 or thereabouts. While the MTA has noted that, should delays befall the rehabiliation, F express service could happen next year, that reality is slowly slipping away. As Michael Rundle reported in Metro this morning, the MTA has now said that the F express train won’t be on the table until mid-2012 at the earliest.
Rundle delivers the bad news:
In a presentation to an MTA committee yesterday, [Connie] Crawford, senior vice president of capital program management at NYC Transit, laid out all the hurdles…
“The deck has essentially failed,” said Crawford, who expects work to start late next year. “Water is streaming through the deck and destroying the steel underneath.”
Crawford said the project will not only include a full deck slab replacement — “pretty intense work” — but station rehabs on the F line, tunnel lighting and the installation of new tracks, switches and signals. One area will be set aside to test different vendors of automated Communications-Based Train Control equipment.
In addition to the poor state of the viaduct, the tracks, sitting unused since the 1970s, are in bad shape as well. “It’s never been upgraded in the elevated section,” she said. “You can barely run trains over that section. Very slowly can they go through, because the track is so old.” Anyone who’s ridden on some of the re-routed trains on the express tracks this fall can attest to that fact.
So what is the MTA to do? Right now, all they can do is sit back and study the problem. The population along the F train is booming, and with the development of Coney Island on tap, the train will continue to suffer from overcrowding.
If the MTA isn’t willing to – or simply cannot yet – run some combination of V local/F express service past Second Ave. and into Brooklyn, they should do the next best thing and increase capacity along the F and G trains. It’s far from ideal, but it sounds like those of us supporting this F Express plan should think in the short term. Even if we have to wait for the express service, the area along the Culver line needs more train service. That is a very realistic goal.