Video of the Day: Inside the 7 extension

By · Published in 2011

As we while away this sunny and warm Friday, eagerly looking forward to the weekend, take a few minutes of your day to check out the latest from the MTA’s YouTube account. In this clip, we see just how much progress has been made on the 7 line extension, and it’s pretty stunning to see just how far along the project is. Tunnel walls are being finished; the cavern at 34th St. and 11th Ave. is beginning to resemble a station.

The extension, part of the mayor’s plan to develop the Far West Side, is still on pace for revenue service by the end of 2013. Unfortunately, due to budget wrangling, the plans for a second stop at 10th Ave. and 41st St. had to be scrapped, and the MTA and city were unable to find the funds for even a shell station which would have made future expansion easier. Even as we gawk at the infrastructure work going on underground, I fear that we will regret the short-term budget decisions made without truly considering the long-term ramifications.

Categories : 7 Line Extension

36 Responses to “Video of the Day: Inside the 7 extension”

  1. Christopher says:

    Would be great if like with the New York Avenue in-fill station on DC Metro. the landowners around there would tax themselves to build the extra station. Oddly that doesn’t seem to work in NYC. Like all NYers, developers seem to take the MTA for granted and don’t see any value in contributing to help it expand.

    • kvnbklyn says:

      The 7 extension is ALREADY being funded through tax increment financing, whereby the city sold bonds to fund the project that will be paid back with the increase in tax revenue from the commercial development in the area. In other words, private developers are funding the extension. The 10th Avenue station was dropped because the MTA (which is building the project for the city) couldn’t contain cost increases. The city was unwilling to sell more bonds since the area around this station is already developed with residential uses and therefore wouldn’t yield much in tax from raised commercial property values to pay off the bonds.

  2. BBnet3000 says:

    Not funding the shell has to be one of the dumbest infrastructure moves ive seen in awhile. Its not like there would be any lack of ridership. They have really screwed the pooch on this by making it a shuttle to the West Side Yards development. The 10th Ave station would at least send the message that this is going to be a real subway line, and could set the tone for an eventual extension southward.

    • Jerrold says:

      At lesat if they DO ever decide to extend it southward, they won’t have to suspend any of the existing service.
      After all, the service from Flushing to Times Square has kept on running throughout this project.

  3. pea-jay says:

    There is no technical reason why a station could not be built around the existing tunnel, correct?

    • Jerrold says:

      Ben, what would YOU say?
      Is there any hope for an eventual 10th Ave. station, now that they are NOT putting in that station shell?

      • It’s not impossible, but it will also be very expensive. The next time the MTA adds a subway station to the middle of a preexisting route like that though will be the first time. In other words, it’s not very likely to happen at all.

        • R. Graham says:

          Ben is right. Station caverns are usually built with controlled blasting. Hence the line exist now and service will be running if a new station were to be built in the middle you would have to shut down service. If stations were being built like the old methods close to the surface of the street using a cut and cover method with a lot of beams to support the street above then I can see it being an easier job, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a cheaper one.

          Blasting might be cheaper as the new steel beamless way of building stations uses smaller portions of steel. The beams we see in stations today have to cost a pretty penny in comparison to the old days when you factor in inflation. Plus the new method is more earthquake resistant than the old one.

          The closest I can recall the MTA coming to doing something structually with a station that could mildly be compared to building a new station in the middle of a route would be the 72nd Street station project on Broadway of the 1, 2 & 3. They actually extended the downtown platform to the north, but this move also involved demolishing portions of the track wall for several feet and moving some of the support beams out as well so the track and could be shifted as a result allowing the widening of the platform.

          • David says:

            The single new station will prove to have a VERY small number of riders and it will have cost billions.
            Losing the 10th Ave. station only makes the 7 extension that more pointless.
            All those billions should have gone to fixing all the busy stations that are falling apart.

        • John-2 says:

          Lawrence Street (Metrotech) on the R is probably the closest equivalent – a station added on after the fact to what is basically a fairly deep tunnel, diving down under the BMT bridge tracks coming out of DeKalb and then under the IRT Seventh Ave./Clark St. tracks at Borough Hall (and deep enough so the IND could later build it’s Jay Street station on top of it).

          Of course, that station was added on 80-plus years ago, when costs and safety requirements were a lot lower than they are today, and without knowing the tube logistics at 10th Avenue & 41st Street, I don’t know if there is enough spacing between the tunnel bores to built a center-island station after-the-fact like Lawrence Street, or if the MTA would have to do side platforms, as was the case with 23rd St.-Ely (Court Square) when it was put in after the 53rd Street IND connector opened.

          • Alon Levy says:

            The express platforms at 59th on the Lex were put in after the fact. If you search this blog’s back pages you’ll find a contemporary article about it.

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      Putting it in later is massively more expensive than if the shell were there in the first place.

      Right now, the work can be done 24/7, because the line has no service past Times Square. Once the extension is completed, they would have to do the work while allow regular service to continue. That requirement alone adds a lot of complexity.

      Also, as more construction is done in the area, it will be very difficult to build a station without interfering with the basements or foundations of new buildings that are now getting built, or will be later on.

      I believe the last time a stop was added in the middle of an underground line was in 1962, when the 59th Street station on the Lexington Avenue Line was converted from local to express. Offhand, I can’t think of any other places it was done in NYC.

      My guess: we won’t see a Tenth Avenue station in our lifetimes. The oppoertunity when it could have been done at a reasonable cost has passed.

      • R. Graham says:

        I completely forgot about the 59th Street express stop. If I read my history right, that station cause a sever amount of service disruptions back then.

      • Eric says:

        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if, once the extension goes into revenue service, they find funding for the 10th Avenue station and suspend 7 train service past Times Square, thus completely neutering the extension and making it unusable for a greater number of years?

        I can just see the service advisory now:

        7 All service terminates at 42nd St-Times Square
        All times until July 2021
        No service to/from Javits Center-34th St

        No, I don’t find it hilarious, either.

        • Clarke says:

          In the video they refer to it as 34 St-Hudson Yards. Either way…Javits Center or developers of Hudson Yards better be forking over naming rights!

          • Jerrold says:

            Hey, THAT’S RIGHT!

            Just like they did with the Mets/Willets Point station,
            why doesn’t the MTA decide that the station will be called 34 St./11 Ave., UNLESS either the Javits Center or Hudson Yards agrees to pay for the naming rights.
            No “free ride” for Citifield should mean no free advertising for anybody.

        • Jerrold says:

          I DO find it hilarious!
          But I’m laughing AT the idiots who run the MTA, not WITH them.

  4. Ramvid says:

    While it is true that the MTA has never built an in-fill station, there are examples of it in the current system, such as 23rd Ely Street. So it is not completely impossible.

    • R. Graham says:

      It’s not impossible, it’s just massively expensive. In earlier times subway lines were built via blasting and cut and cover methods. Today TBMs are used that create one tube for service in one direction and a second tube for the opposite direction.

      This creates a logistical nightmare for adding a fill in station. First you have to destroy the pre-cast tube liner installed for structural support, then you have to demolish and rock separating the two tubes, followed by blasting away at the ceilings to create a station cavern. Basically everything you see done in the video above. The logistical nightmare comes at the cost of service that will already be provided. Such work won’t just shut down the service every weekend. This will shut it down for what I would estimate up to a year.

      • AlexB says:

        The 59th St. stop on the 4/5 was an infill station that must have been very complicated to construct, but they did it.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    I don’t think building the 10th Avenue infill should be very difficult. The ridership at Hudson Yards will be so trivial they’ll be able to simply shut down the 7 extension for the duration of construction and nobody but Bloomberg will notice. I hope that this will be Mayor Weiner’s big middle finger to Bloomberg rather than scuttling the bike lanes.

    • Bolwerk says:

      No matter how I feel about Bloomberg, I hope to God there is never a Mayor Weiner.

      • Alon Levy says:

        We’ll see. Weiner the national universal health care populist I like. Weiner the local anti-urban power broker, not so much.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Totally. Keep him in DC, where he can mitigate harm to the Americans while preventing him from harming New Yorkers.

          Though really, almost any potential mayor seems like a step back. I don’t see JSK or someone sensible even running….

  6. Henry says:

    I don’t get it – if they wanted to save money, why didn’t they just cut out the stop at 34th St instead of 41st St? It probably would’ve been cheaper (and faster) to extend only to 41st St, and it would have allowed for a further extension to 34th St later on.

    • Jerrold says:

      That is exactly what I SAID some time ago on this blog.
      They went about this job literally BACKWARDS.
      Why didn’t they start building it from the Times Square end, rather than the other end?
      That way, they would have built the 10th Ave. station, and they could have left the Javits Center station for later.

      • Justin says:

        Did you guys read the purpose of Bloomberg’s 7 line extension. It was to help spur development in lower Hells Kitchen/Upper Chelsea, particularly in the area around the Javits Center. So the station on 34th and 11th was Central to this plan. A station on 41st and 10th wasn’t Central to this plan, as Bloomberg wasn’t trying to develop this area. This expansion was first proposed as a part of a NYC Olympic bid…………

        • R. Graham says:

          Mainly the purpose of the extension was apart of the deal between the city and the original developer who won the air rights to built over the Hudson Yards through a bidding process.

          The hope is that the rest of the area would begin to flourish as a result of the development over the rail yards.

      • Alon Levy says:

        There’s nothing wrong with starting construction from 34th. The decision of which direction to drill in is completely technical, and since the TBM work is a small portion of the budget it bears no relation to the political and social decision of how to go about building the stations.

        The decision that 34th/11th was more important than 41st/10th is the bad one, and this is entirely due to Bloomberg’s belief that paying off luxury developers is more important than good transit.

      • R. Graham says:

        You couldn’t build from the Times Square end first because you are using a TBM to tunnel the rock. You need a launch box to do this and there is no way you could create a launch box anywhere in that area.

  7. paulb says:

    Of all the ways of getting better public transportation to the west side, this subway extension must be absolutely the most expensive, not just in project dollars, but in dollars per passenger it’s likely to carry. And not even a station to serve the tenants in those high rises that have transformed the appearance of west 42nd st. The thing looks like a mind bogglingly huge white elephant. What I hope for is that I’m incorrect, and that in the years after it opens it proves itself out in some way that I can’t envision now.

  8. Cameron says:

    I think this whole project is a mess. I don’t know how this is really going to help that area and the fact a station won’t be built at 41st and 10th is ridiculous. I don’t know, I never felt right about this project. I hope that it works out but I’m not feeling good about this at all.

  9. db says:

    actually building a 10th ave station would no shut down service.

    Since the tunnels are two deep bore tunnels all you have to do is shut down 1 tunnel at a time and run all service on 1 track to 34th street hudson yards. They could deal with half service at hudson yards for a while (with other trains terminating either at 61st or times square)


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