Home MTA Construction For 1 points north, two years of rehab work

For 1 points north, two years of rehab work

by Benjamin Kabak

Dyckman St., shown here in 2005, is in dire need of a station rehabilitation. (Photo via flickr user masck)

Back in the day, I used to ride the 1 train from 96th St. north to its terminal at 242nd St. on a daily basis. It would take me to high school, and as the years worn on, I grew familiar with the stops north of Dyckman St. where few people would get on or off. The route map — 207th, 215th, 225th across the water but part of Manhattan, 231st, 238th, 242nd — is ingrained in my memory, and although I haven’t made the trip in nearly a decade, I still have a soft spot for these stations.

Now, these stops are gearing up for a rehab, and those commuters coming from Northern Manhattan and the Bronx are in for two years of service changes and weekend delays. The work — two simultaneous projects — are a bit of a $47 million effort to rehab the oft-neglected parts of the 1 line is not without controversy.

The problems themselves are fairly straightforward. The biggest piece is a complete rehab of the Dyckman St. station. Similar to the schedule along the Brighton Line in Brooklyn, the southbound and northbound platforms will both close for stretches of ten months as crews deconstruct and reconstruct the station. Work at the stop will include the restoration of the concrete wall along Hillside Ave.; replacement of stairs; repairs of the ceiling; reconstruction of the platforms and canopies; and new windscreens and guardrails. Additionally, the tracks around the station will be replaced as well.

Starting in September, the northbound platform will close for the work, and that closure will last until June 2011. Then, in July 2011, the southbound platform will close until August 2012. Per Transit, “During this time people will have to walk to the next station or ride back to Dyckman on the opposite platform.”

Beyond Dyckman St., the station work will go on during weekends only. At the five stations to the north, Transit will engage in some component-based work as platforms, canopies and stairs will be rehabilitated. As of now, Transit plans to shutter those stations for 14 weekends between September and June 2011 and then in additional 14 from July 2011 to August 2012, and every station from 242nd to 181st St. will be closed.

This sounds simple enough, but a few interesting details have raised some eyebrows. First, the Dyckman St. station will not become fully accessible during the rehab. Transit officials say the money isn’t there to bring elevators or ramps to the stop. They also claim that the station “does not fit the criteria for a key station” and is not on the list of 100 “key stations” to become ADA-compliant by 2020. Dyckman, said Deirdre Parker to DNAInfo, is “not a terminal point, is not a transfer point to other bus or subway lines, is not near any major activity centers and ranks 185th out of 422 stations in ridership.”

Advocates for the disabled dispute these findings and bemoan the state of accessible stations in Northern Manhattan. “It is an area that is really underserved by mass transit as it is,” Michael Harris said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to deprive an entire community of the subway.”

To compensate for the service outages, the MTA will run shuttle buses from 242nd St. in the Bronx to 207th St. on the A and will allow free boardings on the M3 from 168th St. and north. The agency however won’t add more A trains during the work, and many Inwood residents fear overcrowding. Despite these inconveniences and relatively low ridership, these stations have needed the work since my high school days, and the 1 will be better off for it.

After the jump, a rendering of the new look for Dyckman St.

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Kid Twist July 19, 2010 - 1:16 pm

You skipped 231st.

Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2010 - 1:29 pm

So I did. That was the annoying stop too close to ones around it.

Jerrold July 20, 2010 - 2:48 pm

It’s also interesting to note that on THIS page:


Marble Hill-225th St. is shown as being in the Bronx.

Like you said, it is across the water but still in Manhattan.

AK July 20, 2010 - 5:02 pm

It depends on what you mean by “Manhattan.” Marble Hill is not on the island of Manhattan, but because of its unique history, it is part of New York County (and hence, the Borough of Manhattan) for political purposes…

Jerrold July 20, 2010 - 6:39 pm

I believe that it is legally part of the Borough of Manhattan because at one time a channel was dug to make the Harlem River completely navigable. The original Harlem River passed to the NORTH of Marble Hill and was narrow and shallow at the place where it did so. Therefore Marble Hill at that time was physically part of Manhattan Island.

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 8:44 pm

That page is incorrect. The 225th Street station is 100% in the Borough of Manhattan.

I’m surprised, because most MTA materials I’ve seen get it right. Someone probably “corrected” this one.

AK July 21, 2010 - 12:47 am

Right, but I think it is fairly reasonable of MTA to list it as in “the Bronx” because if non-locals do get off there thinking they are on Manhattan Island, they would be quite perplexed indeed 🙂

John Paul N. July 21, 2010 - 1:07 am

In the app that I’m making, I will correctly identify that station as being in Manhattan and point them to a Google Map if they don’t believe that.

Andrew July 21, 2010 - 7:24 am

How many non-locals get off at 225th?

Besides, there are no references on the map to islands – only to boroughs. The map for the F correctly puts Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, even though it’s not on Manhattan Island.

AK July 21, 2010 - 10:12 am

Right, and all I’m saying is that some non-locals will be confused by that. Although “Roosevelt ISLAND” certainly is less forgivably mistaken as part of Manhattan ISLAND than Marble Hill…

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 10:23 pm

Annoying stop? It’s the busiest stop on the line north of 181st!

It’s also not terribly close to the station on either side – Google shows it as an 8-minute walk from 225th and a 9-minute walk from 238th. The streets around there are not on a regular Manhattan-style grid.

Jonathan July 19, 2010 - 1:49 pm

If it was up to me, the MTA would buy the vacant land (block 2170, lot 190) between Fort George Hill and the northbound platform and develop some kind of building there with an easement to allow no-stairs access to the platform from the street. That would allow wheelchair users to use the stop in the uptown direction.

John Paul N. July 21, 2010 - 1:04 am

Whenever I see a new elevator from the street to the fare control mezzanine, it is usually a freestanding structure interrupting the sidewalk. This is actually annoying. Why can’t the MTA buy some land, as you said, and use it for station purposes? If they are able to buy buildings along 2nd Avenue for ventilation buildings, why not use that analogy for this purpose?

In New York, subway station architecture mimicked the existing elevated rail stations of the time: entrances are constructed on the sidewalk easement (I’m not too keen on the terminology here), not on lots. Constructing the system this way saves money, but now it’s biting them in the you-know-where when it comes to ADA compliance.

SEAN July 19, 2010 - 2:38 pm


As I remember, once a station or part is renovated, it must be rendered accessable under title III of ADA regulations reguardless of ridership, connections or activity centers nearby. The law is quite clear on this point.

Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2010 - 2:45 pm

I think the MTA worked out a deal with the Feds under the ADA where they would have a certain number of preselected stations compliant by 2020, and if they did work on other stations in the meantime, they wouldn’t have to upgrade them. I need to dig into that though.

Avi July 19, 2010 - 4:08 pm

It also has to do with how extensive the renovation is. If they are just painting/retiling then they probably don’t need to make it ADA compliant, but there was no way South Ferry or 96th street could get away without adding elevators, regardless of how busy the stations are.

SEAN July 19, 2010 - 4:28 pm

You are correct. A station only needs to meet ADA standards when the rehab is structural in nature & not regular maintnence as you said.

Also if only one side of a station is going to be rehabbed, then ONLY that side needs to meet ADA standards. Yes I know that is unlikely.

Nathanael July 19, 2010 - 5:14 pm

Yes. You’re right — Benjamin is not quite right.

The “key stations” rule is *separate* from the “renovations” rule. Any station renovated, whether “key” or not, must be made accessible.

NYC Transit is trying to get away with this based on a different exception the — the “too expensive” exception. (This exception does not apply to key stations, only to renovations.) The official definition of “too expensive” is “costing more than 20% of the total costs of renovation”. (There are some legal arguments about the percentage, but the lowest number I’ve seen is 10%.)

In other words, the MTA is *required* to spend $4.5-$9 million on accessibility at Dyckman St., since they’re spending $45 million total.

$4.5 million would buy an elevator for sure.

The MTA is blatantly violating the law and is going to get its ass handed to it.

SEAN July 19, 2010 - 6:16 pm

I thaught that was the case. Not only that, key stations depending on construction needs have until either Feb. 17 2020 or Feb. 17 2030 if an extention is nessessary.

Nathanael July 20, 2010 - 1:25 pm

Actually, I believe the “final deadline” for key stations to be renovated in “heavy rail” subway systems, if extensions are granted by the FTA to the original ’93 deadline, is 1993 + 30 years, so 2023. I might have missed an amendment though.

I think NYC Transit already has an extension to 2020; it is nearly on schedule. For the list of key stations, which is absurdly hard to find, see here: http://www.nyctransportationac.....-list.html

The fact is that practically every system in the country has met its key station requirements by now. The exceptions are Boston (where one or two of the key stations are still under construction, but otherwise done), and New York City. NYC is the noticable laggard.

Of course Amtrak still has work to do, but it had an outrageously large number of stations to do — every station except ‘flag stops’, not just a list of “key stations”.

The other urban rail systems in the US are busily upgrading *non*-key stations so that they can minimize paratransit expenses. Once you get the whole system ADA-accessible (and the sidewalk network around every stop for 1/4 mile radius, which is actually the major problem remaining in places like Chicago), only a very limited group of people qualify for paratransit: those with *mental* disabilities preventing them from navigating the system, and those unable to walk/wheel themselves for 1/4 mile. Until you get the whole system accessible, you’re liable for an enormous number of very expensive paratransit trips. Accordingly, most systems are going for 100% to minimize paratransit expense.

NYC is trying to avoid installing elevators even when doing extensive renovations. The attitude difference is extraordinary.

John Paul N. July 21, 2010 - 1:20 am

I just love how stations like Atlantic/Pacific, Myrtle-Wyckoff and 161st-Yankee Stadium are all considered to be separate stations for the category of the 100 key stations.

Andrew July 21, 2010 - 7:20 am

They are separate stations, joined into station complexes.

Jay and Lawrence are both getting ADA upgrades – and are being joined. If they weren’t being joined, the MTA would get credit for upgrading two stations. By joining them, they should lose credit for one?

John Paul N. July 22, 2010 - 4:45 pm

New York’s subway system is the only one in the world that can claim “station complexes.” Other systems that have transfer stations like that will say that such a “station complex” is really one station, i.e. Washington Metro.

If I go by the count I prefer the MTA would adopt, 423 instead of 468 stations, they are retrofitting about 90 stations. That is still all right, but that’s not the goal of 100.

John Paul N. July 21, 2010 - 1:34 am

I have come to realize that New York City (the MTA) does have a blase attitude about ADA in public transportation. If the construction of elevators will drastically reduce the costs and subsidies (and abuses) of paratransit, shouldn’t the MTA grab at the chance? This is just one of too many lame excuses in the MTA’s book.

Does the fact that New York City has an extensive local bus system (even after the recent service cuts) factor in favorably for NYC public transportation accessibility? My personal answer is yes and no: yes for the availability of buses, no for the slowness of buses and the service interruptions that result when somebody in a wheelchair needs to use the bus. I’ll lean towards no.

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 8:49 pm

Is the $45 million for Dyckman Street only or for the other five stations as well?

It’s not an elevator. It’s two elevators (assuming a ramp would provide access from the street to the headhouse, which is probably not difficult). And the platforms would have to be widened to make space for the elevators, which I’m sure wouldn’t be cheap.

Most station rehabs haven’t included elevators.

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 11:07 pm

Page 33 of this PCAC report states that, aside from new construction (e.g., South Ferry), NYCT is only obligated to install ADA accommodations at key stations.

Or am I misunderstanding the report?

SEAN July 19, 2010 - 4:14 pm

Please check on this & post a followup. Thanks.

Scott E July 19, 2010 - 8:37 pm

I would have thought so, too, but I think it depends on WHAT is being renovated/reconstructed. If the PLATFORMS are being rebuilt, but the entrances are not, then just the platforms and not the entrances need to be made accessible (high-level platforms, by their very nature, are accessible).

If they paint or re-tile a staircase, they don’t need to make it accessible – which is probably what they’ll do.

Nathanael July 20, 2010 - 11:02 am

While you are *basically* right, the law prohibits “segmenting” projects in order to evade the requirements of the ADA.

So if you do *nothing* but rebuild the platforms, you have to rebuild them ADA-compliant (with tactile strips at the edge, etc.) but you don’t have to do anything else.

If you rebuild the platforms *and* retile the staircase, it’s one project, and you get the picture.

SEAN July 20, 2010 - 4:28 pm

If a station is rehabbed, only those parts touched must meet ADA standards. Having said that, the path of travel should meet that standard as well.

The EPVA a veterens avocate group based in Jackson Heights has an audio tape primer on the ADA. I’m sure it’s online or on CD NOW. Call 718-803-EPVA (3782) TO GET A COPY.

Sharon July 19, 2010 - 2:54 pm

The Brighton stations are 100% rehabs. Ave u is a major transfer stop to the b3 and should have gotten an elevator it would been easy to do. Ave u has 4 stations, one of them should be Ada. Ave m on the Brighton is a transfer point to Brooklyn college

Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2010 - 2:55 pm

The Brighton stations, I believe, will be compliant. The comparison here is in the timing for north and southbound closures, not in ADA compliance.

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 8:51 pm

You believe incorrectly. Only Kings Highway will have elevators.

Jerrold July 20, 2010 - 6:46 pm

I thought that the Ave. J station was the transfer point to the B6 bus to Brooklyn College, and that the Ave. H station was just four blocks south of the southern end of the Brooklyn College campus.

Jerrold July 20, 2010 - 8:56 pm


Sorry, I got confused.
The Ave. H station is four blocks WEST of the WESTERN end of the Brooklyn College campus.

AK July 19, 2010 - 3:34 pm

Let’s be honest, the biggest losers in this are we car-less golfers who will be deprived of the delights of Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course–America’s oldest public course– for lo those many months 🙂

JAR July 19, 2010 - 4:27 pm

I don’t get why they can’t just close half of one platform at a time. Conductors can open the front half or rear half of the train’s doors. Like at old South Ferry. Start with reconstructing the half that’s furthest from entry & egress points, then work from there.
It’s really hard to deprive a neighborhood of station access for that long. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying that would never happen with a station on the Upper East or Upper West.

Brian July 20, 2010 - 12:34 am

The TA can’t do that. If they did, the rehab will be twice as long. Closing an entire platform off will shorten the time to rehab that particular section. It was done when the TA renovate(d) the IRT White Plains Road, IRT Jerome, BMT Brighton, IRT Pelham, and IRT Flushing lines.

Lennin Reyes July 20, 2010 - 2:48 pm

I know it’s tough for Dyckman Street to be closed. But for those who need that area, the (A) is four to five blocks west of Nagle Avenue/Dyckman Street.

Andrew July 20, 2010 - 8:57 pm

This is exactly how the Upper West Side station rehabs at 103rd, 110th, 116th, and 125th were done – alternating station closures (I think one direction at a time).

(Once you deal with stations busier than that, there’s a substantial risk of overloading the neighboring stations with diverted passengers.)

In this case, I wonder where people will be expected to backtrack. Until the terminal, none of the stations north of Dyckman have free crossunders. Not a big deal for people with unlimiteds, but it looks like unlimiteds may soon be limiteds!

Half-closures are an interesting idea, but they’d lead to delays at 207th and 191st as people scurry to the front or back. More importantly, they won’t give the contractor an opportunity to work on the staircases or headhouse. This sort of closure is quite common – it’s being done right now at several Pelham line stations (which are actually closed in both directions full-time) and on the Brighton line.

Sharon July 19, 2010 - 5:35 pm

Ben I emailed the mta about ave u. They said no elevator

Nathanael July 20, 2010 - 11:04 am

You know, the MTA is inviting lawsuits. Which they will lose. I don’t know *why* they’re doing so, but they’ve repeatedly made major renovations without making the stations wheelchair-accessible.

This is going to cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in legal expenses and they’ll have to rebuild the stations again. Plus provide yet more paratransit.

If they really wanted to cheap out they should have done what Chicago did: close half the stations, thus evading all accessibility requirements on the closed stations.

John Paul N. July 21, 2010 - 1:47 am

Well, they did that, with the LIRR in 1998. The Montauk Line stations between Long Island City and Jamaica were closed because of poor ridership and as they needed to be rehabbed due to their use of new diesel trains, those rehabs had to comply with ADA. (That line would have been successful had it provided a direct connection to Manhattan somehow, but that’s another story.) To their credit, most of the LIRR stations have some form of ADA wheelchair compliance; most of the exceptions are in Queens.

Two weekends without 1 trains :: Second Ave. Sagas September 17, 2010 - 5:49 pm

[…] until 5 a.m. on Monday morning. In order to accommodate work on a series of projects — the Dyckman St. rehab, track panel installation at 215th St., signal cable replacement north of 96th St. and work on the […]

Second Ave. Sagas October 15, 2010 - 1:32 am

[…] the MTA announced in July that they would be spending $45 million on the Dyckman Street station rehabilitation, the project drew the attention of disabled advocates because the plans did not include ADA […]

Dyckman St. northbound platform to close until August :: Second Ave. Sagas October 17, 2010 - 1:31 pm

[…] authority first announced these plans back in July, but now the work is here. It is not without controversy however. A group of disabled riders has […]


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