The designs for the Culver Viaduct work at 4th Ave. are a huge improvement over the current bombed-out shell of a subway station. (Source: New York City Transit)
The Culver Viaduct sure has been on our minds for the better part of 2007. A key component to the dreams of Brooklynites to enjoy the F as an express train, the Viaduct is in terrible shape and living seemingly on borrowed time.
Earlier this month, the MTA announced the details of their viaduct rehabilitation plans which will turn the Viaduct stations — one at Smith-9th Sts. and one at 4th Avenue — into crown jewels of the subway system. Recently, at a Community Board 6 meeting in Brooklyn, New York City Transit unveiled the architectural renderings and track work plans for the extensive renovations. There is, of course, good news and bad news.
The good news first: The renderings of the stations look fantastic. On top of this post is what the station at 4th Ave. will look like in a four years. At left is what the station looks like now. (Click to enlarge.) The difference is night and day. Gone are the boarded-up windows and grungy outside.
With views up and down Brooklyn’s admittedly less-than-scenic 4th Ave., the station will no longer be an isolated island in the subway system. Meanwhile, the stations will look just as nice on the inside (see left). Looks good. Too bad we have to wait so long for the finished product.
Finally, in the good news department, comes news of the G train. Beginning next year, the MTA will run the G out to Church Ave., and that service addition will be permanent. In an effort to alleviate F train overcrowding, Manhattan-bound passengers in Kensington and Park Slope can now take the G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn and transfer to the A or C. Otherwise, the G will now allow riders to take a one-seat ride from Greenpoint to Kensington. The good folks at Kensington (Brooklyn) are quite pleased with his news.
But — and this is a rather big but — the project comes with its fair share of bad news, both centered around things we already knew. As I’ve reported in the past, the F Express Plan won’t come to fruition until this viaduct work is completed, but that’s bad news only in the abstract. Worse is the news that the Smith-9th St. stop will be closed for the better part of 2010 with service changes (details available here in PDF form and below) affecting the line for the better part of four years.
This project will be divided into four phases, each with varying degrees of impact. Take a look:
Phase 1 – Set to kick off next fall, the first phase, lasting 15 months, will have only a minimal impact on the line. The center express tracks will be closed as crews will be conducting structural work on the viaduct. At this point, the G will begin running to Church Ave., and the F will run normally.
Phase 2A – During the second stage of work, things get dicey. For four months, the northbound local tracks will be out of service. The F and the G will run express from Church Ave. to Smith-9th Sts. with southbound trains providing service to 15th St.-Prospect Park and Ft. Hamilton Parkway. Northbound trains will service 4th Ave. via a temporary platform, and Smith-9th Sts. will be closed completely with shuttle bus service running along the path the train currently takes. Good thing that’s only four months in MTA time.
Phase 2B – The second part of Phase 2 will last 8 months, but service will slowly return to some semblance of normality. The F and G will run local on the northbound tracks except the trains will bypass Smith-9th Sts. for the first five months of this phase. Smith-9th Sts. will reopen after nine months of repairs and renovations in the middle of phase 2B, but at that point, northbound, only the G will stop there while southbound both the F and the G will service that station.
Phase 3A – This is, in effect, the opposite of Phase 2A. Southbound trains will run express from Smith-9th Sts. to Church Ave. with northbound service only to 15th St.-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway. Temporary platforms will service southbound F and G riders at 4th Ave. and southbound G riders only at Smith-9th Sts. This phase will take around five months.
Phase 3B – The last ten months before things get back to normal constitute phase 3B. Here, F and G trains return to local service south of Smith-9th Sts., but Smith-9th Sts. will be service southbound by G trains on a temporary platform. Northbound service will be normal.
Phase 4 – For the last three months of work, riders along the newly-extended G line and F line won’t notice a thing. NYCT is installing new switches on the express tracks just north of 4th Ave. that should allow for that long-awaited F express service.
So there you have it. That is a 45-month project to completely renovate the Culver Viaduct. When all is said and done, the G train will be vastly improved, and if NYCT holds to its word, express service will start along the F line. But for now, as residents in Brooklyn face around four years of service delays and shuttle buses, it’s no wonder that many residents are not too happy.