This rendering will forever remain a very nice picture.
It’s starting, and I hope it doesn’t end up costing the city the Second Ave. subway yet again.
In a move that isn’t too shocking, the MTA has abandoned its plans to do a full overhaul of the 4th Ave. station on the F line. While the agency will still rehab all of the tracks and Culver Viaduct structure itself, in an effort to save nearly $65 million, the MTA has withdrawn the station rehab plans. This move is a big blow to an area sorely in need of an aesthetically appealing station and is sure to be an early warning sign of more construction cuts to come.
Mike McLaughlin of The Brooklyn Paper broke the news late last week:
The almighty transportation agency has abandoned its ambitious plans to renovate the shabby Fourth Avenue station in Park Slope into a glittering, light-filled, Euro-styled stunner.
Just last November, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority showed off renderings (left) of the elevated F-train platform basking in sunlight from new windows, renovations that were part of a larger project to reconstruct the crumbling elevated tracks on the F and G line between the Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue.
The trackwork is still set to start later this year and finish in 2012. And improvements to the equally beleaguered Smith–Ninth Street station are still slated to begin next year. But the overall $250-million project has been trimmed to $187.8 million, so something had to give, said Deirdre Parker, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit.
“Work on the Fourth Avenue station was never officially funded. Consideration has been deferred until the next capital plan,” Parker said in an e-mail to The Brooklyn Paper. And, yes, that next capital plan will roll around in, oh, 2013.
While the Smith-9th Sts. station will get its much-needed aesthetic overhaul, this news is just another step backwards for an MTA that has spent much of 2008 backtracking on promised upgrades. It’s easy to renege on promises of aesthetic upgrades; they don’t impact train performance. But as many transit rider advocates note in McLaughlin’s article, appearances matter. (Ed Note: See clarification at bottom.)
Meanwhile, I can’t help but fear for the future of other big-ticket items. A whole bunch of Q stops are set for renovation, and various projects — Chambers St. on the BMT Nassaue Line, South Ferry, Bowling Green, to name a few — are in different stages right now. Could these all face the axe as the MTA looks to trim its budget? Are we looking an age in which station aesthetics – already a sore point for the MTA — are sacrificed even further in the name of money?
And then what happens when we start looking at the big-ticket capital projects? Are the Second Ave. Subway and LIRR East Side Access projects in danger?
In the various questions posted to Gene Russianoff on The Times’ City Room blog, more than a few straphangers focused on station aesthetics. As anyone who’s been to London or Paris or Moscow can attest to, New York’s subways are a visual mess, and I fear that, as the pursestrings tighten, this is a situation that will not improve any time soon.
Addendum: Paul Fleuranges, NYC Transit’s Vice President, Corporate Communications, writes in with a clarification and a correction this morning. “There was never any intent to perform a full station rehabilitation of the 4th Avenue station during the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation; as such work is not contained in the funding envelope for this particular capital improvement in the 2005 – 2009 program,” he says.
Instead, the work will include surface reconstruction in a station that has seen parts of its outdoor platform beginning to crumble. The 4th Ave. renderings were simply views of what the station could look like if it were to receive funding in the capital plan that covers 2010-2014.