Home Asides At 181st St., still waiting for permanent repairs

At 181st St., still waiting for permanent repairs

by Benjamin Kabak

Eighteen months ago, in August of 2009, a large chunk of the ceiling at the 1 train’s 181st St. station came tumbling down. The station was shuttered for two weeks as MTA crews worked to clear the tracks and temporarily shore up the ceiling. As the authority dealt with the aftermath of the accident, news developments were alarming, to say the least. Initial reports noted how the MTA had a plan to fix the ceiling in 2007 but had to postpone them due to budgetary concerns while a subsequent investigation found that the MTA had known about the ceiling since 1999.

So today, has the ceiling been repaired? Of course not. As DNAInfo’s Carla Zanoni reports today, the MTA is still trying to formulate plans to repair the ceiling. The authority, which has also found ceiling weaknesses at the 168th St. station, says, according to Zanoni, that the age and initial construction of the landmarked stations is proving a stumbling block. “It seems the original architects relied on physics to keep up the archways,” the MTA’s Marcus Book said.

Right now, the authority expects to begin repair work in 2012, and the work at 181st St. alone could cost $17.5 million. Still, it will likely be three years between the initial accident and permanent repairs. A temporary solution keeps subway riders safe for now, but we can’t put band aids on long-term problems and expect everything to be fine. The system needs its economic support, and this ceiling problem is simply indicative of institutional issues at every level.

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17 comments

Anon February 15, 2011 - 12:08 pm

“It seems the original architects relied on physics to keep up the archways,” the MTA’s Marcus Book said.”

How else could you keep up such an archway? Skyhooks? Don’t quite understand the outrage with respect to this quote…

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Benjamin Kabak February 15, 2011 - 12:10 pm

No outrage. Just highlighting one of the MTA’s reasons for the delay. They seem surprised to find out that a vaulted ceiling without support beams is being held up by physics.

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Marcus February 15, 2011 - 12:22 pm

“Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.” -Macbeth Act V Scene iii

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Jerry February 15, 2011 - 1:10 pm

[I intended to put this message HERE.]

I believe that in those days, “physic” meant “medical science”.
Note that we still call a medical doctor a physician.

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Lawrence Velázquez February 15, 2011 - 12:29 pm

Someone should let them know that physics keeps everything up. Just saying.

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ferryboi February 15, 2011 - 12:56 pm

Physics don’t keep EVERYTHING up 🙂

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Jerry February 15, 2011 - 7:26 pm

I didn’t get this the first time I read it earlier today.
I guess you meant that BIOLOGY, not physics, keeps some “things” up.

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ant6n February 15, 2011 - 12:59 pm

Not physics! That’ll never work!

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Keith February 15, 2011 - 12:23 pm

It’s a typo. They meant psychics.

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SEAN February 15, 2011 - 2:28 pm

Don’t you mean psychotics? LOL Love the wordplay.

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John-2 February 15, 2011 - 1:23 pm

I’ll bet the MTA would be baffled by how those Roman aqueducts have stayed up all these years, too.

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Jonathan R February 15, 2011 - 3:58 pm

It would be kinda cool if as part of this job the MTA could figure out how to dig elevator shafts from the no. 1 platforms to the A platforms. An elevator from the uptown platform of the no. 1 to the uptown A and another elevator from the downtown platform of the no. 1 to the downtown A would make the station a more efficient transfer point.

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Jason February 15, 2011 - 6:44 pm

168th street IRT station is truly a gem. Whenever i get the chance to get off there, I love to hang back and just marvel at the huge vaulted ceiling with its original chandelier mounts in place.The mercury vapor globe lights and the mosaic work, even extremely dirty, still have this old-world charm. Also, looking around for the old equipment and layout is fun. Aside from the city hall abandoned station, i have yet to find another IRT station that packs so much character.

Yea, 181 is alright…..i guess.

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JP February 15, 2011 - 8:58 pm

It really costs seventeen million dollars to fix a ceiling? There are too many fingers in that pie. Shenanigans I say.

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Nathanael March 3, 2011 - 4:15 pm

A collapsing brick arch is HARD to fix. It should have been repaired before it got this bad, then it would have been easy to fix. But you wait too long, and you’re rebuilding the whole thing, and then you have to support the stuff above it while you’re doing that, and it adds up.

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No money for old snow equipment :: Second Ave. Sagas February 22, 2011 - 12:54 pm

[…] has now become a familiar refrain from the MTA. As I explored last week, the MTA knew about structural deficiencies at 181st St. years before the ceiling collapsed, but the authority simply did not have the dollars to address […]

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Li July 18, 2013 - 4:57 pm

It seems as if new Yorker’s share a definitive characteristic..”Chronic Complaining”. If they close the stations and have them repaired, the blogosphere would be blowing up with caustic missives with regards to the inoppertune timing and how much of an inconvenience the station closure is, but when they dont fix the deteriorating stations..alas!!!!!!
While i am not a fan of the MTA, i will say for $2.50 a ride what are we expecting, diamond encrusted rails????

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