Getting closer on a Bleecker St. transfer


Leo Villareal's Hive brings LED colors to the Bleecker St. station. (Photo by Matt Kroll/@TheRealKroll)

A few weeks ago, long-time SAS reader Matt Kroll sent me the photo above of Bleecker St. It’s a glimpse of the station’s newest art installation — a honeycomb of LED lights that change color above the new staircase. By Leo Villareal, “Hive” adds a touch of playfulness amidst the new transfer.

Of course, all of this may leave a curious New Yorker wondering how the MTA can go about installing a complex piece of modern art before completing a four-year renovation on a single subway station. To that end, I can provide no help, but it seems as though that elusive opening is moving closer to reality. Today, a reader informed me that the automatic announcements on the uptown 6 trains now announce a transfer to the B/D/F/M at Broadway-Lafayette, and another reader tells me that the station will open this month.

We’ve heard it all before, and so I asked Transit today for an official confirmation. They could not give me one. They have a date in mind, but it’s not yet ready for public announcement. So they’re getting closer and closer and closer and closer and…

Categories : Manhattan

44 Responses to “Getting closer on a Bleecker St. transfer”

  1. Alex says:

    Some of the improvements seem like an asymptote… closer and closer and close but never quite getting there.

  2. Larry Littlefield says:

    Perhaps the MTA is afraid that as soon as they give a public date, the contractor will stop working and require at $30 million change order to accelerate work to meet the date announced.


  3. stairbob says:

    My guess is that the art installer team is separate from the people who do the “real” work, and they do their thing as soon as the area they are installing to is ready.

  4. SEAN says:

    Magic 8 ball, will the transfer between the uptown 6 & the B, D F & M open soon? “the prospects no longer look Bleeck.”

  5. aestrivex says:

    It baffles me how the MTA prioritizes making things look pretty at a station that has recently been redone when their construction work is unfinished, their trains break down, and lots of other stations look like they haven’t been touched since 1978. Probably I am vastly overestimating the cost of the art relative to the operating budget for the other components, but instead of making the MTA look good, the overprioritization of the art makes me see them as looking bad and wasting their time and energy.

    • Shabazz says:

      Its really lose lose for the MTA on this.

      They renovate a station, people say.. wow it cost how much $$$ for this??? It looks ugly. It looks terrible.

      They renovate stations and people say, omg! you spent too much money on the art!!

      Also, I think the art is a small part of the renovation budget. Just saying.

    • Arts for Transit is such a miniscule part of the budget and so well regarded that it’s not going anywhere.

      • bgriff says:

        Isn’t the MTA required by law to spend 1% (or some similar amount) of major renovation projects on art? Could still be argued it’s a silly policy, but at least it’s the state legislature’s policy, not the MTA’s.

      • aestrivex says:

        Yes, I know in my rational mind that it is really a tiny portion of the overall MTA operating budget. It is more that it just feels wrong to have this construction project be so late, with costs seeming to balloon out of control, yet also take the resources to put in this fancy artwork. To me, it just sort of feels like something is wrong no matter how negligible the costs are.

  6. Peter says:

    We can only hope that the new portions of the Broadway/Bleecker complex will be glistening and lovely, but in the course of these renovations there has been serious damage done to the B/D/F/M platforms — big swaths of tiling were ripped up in the course of stairway and elevator installation/repair and it’s been finished off in an alarmingly unprofessional manner: the replacement tiles don’t match the originals, there are bumps and bulges and the seams look awful.

    I kept thinking that the current state was temporary and the platforms would be completely refinished before this was all done, but if an opening is imminent I guess that’s not the case.

    I also notice there’s a lot of new water damage on the walls on these platforms — can’t say for sure it’s related to the renovations, but that seems likely.

    • mike d. says:

      That area has a lot of water main breaks. B/D/F/M station needs a bath.

      • Alex C says:

        The B/D/F/M station needs a complete makeover. The platforms, tiles and track look like they’ve been beat up for 30 years despite being relatively new. Amazing “Rehab” job.

    • Tower18 says:

      I noticed something similar at Jay St when they were renovating that. Thing is, within 6 months, if not much less, everything reverts to the same stained shade and you can’t tell the difference.

      • Alex C says:

        Jay St, two minor leaks aside, is still in excellent condition. Comparing it to the IND portion of the Bleecker/Broadway/Lafayette is not really fair. Jay still looks new, while the other looks awful.

  7. John-2 says:

    If the uptown 6 trains are announcing the transfer, it’s got to be pretty close to opening time (though I suppose checking the R-160 announcements on the F and the M to see if those have also be changed to announce the transfer to just the 6 train, instead of to the “Downtown 6” would be a way to corroborate that someone at Westchester yard didn’t simply jump the gun on the update).

  8. PeterC says:

    If you walk by, you can see that the main thing they’ve been working on for the last few weeks is the elevators. For whatever reason, that seems to be the holdup.

    • Eric says:

      Elevator always seem to be the holdup. The Court Sq transfer opened late because of elevator issues.

      • Jerrold says:

        Like they can’t open an escalator while they continue to workon the elevators! Typical bureaucratic bullshit. How about all the stations that have ONLY stairs? Should they close down all of THOSE stations because they lack elevators? And that is not to mention the fact that many people are afraid anyway to go into a subway elevator.

          • Billy G says:

            It wasn’t ADA before, and it isn’t officially open yet.

            There’s no reason to block the stairs for ADA concerns alone.

            • John-2 says:

              In a rational bureaucracy that’s what you’d do. But any new station access point built with federal funds has to by ADA-compliant from the micro-second it opens to the public, because it has to comply with the 1989 Americans With Disabilities Act unless you jump through hoops to get a waive, as the MTA did with Dyckman Street on the 1.

              A federal waiver at Houston and Lafayette streets was never going to fly, even on a temporary basis. No working elevators. No compliance. No opening.

              • Billy G says:

                That’s where the lawyers come in.

                What’s the language? Is that open to foot traffic or officially open (e.g. ribbon cutting)?

                If the former, then well that’s the cost of accepting the funding and the MTA should put that reason on notices across the entrance. No waiver?

                • Nathanael says:

                  To tell the truth, the construction teams working on the elevators are probably blocking the access points to the stairs and escalators. The ADA encourages elevators and stairs to follow roughly the same paths so that people with mobility impairments can figure out which way to go.

                  A subway’s a crowded place to work and it will go faster if the construction team is allowed to occupy the stairs while working on the elevators.

                • Nathanael says:

                  Also, it’s easier to get a temporary waiver if you have a past record of good behavior. The MTA has a record of BAD behavior when it comes to ADA compliance, so…

      • Bolwerk says:

        Kind of going off-topic here, but WTF is with those elevators anyway? I have been semi-frequently using the one at Court Sq. to carry things, incidentally, and it is absurd how slow it is. (My one or two recollections of other elevators from around the system is that they were similarly slow. Another example of the MTA not giving a shit about people’s time?)

  9. steve says:

    Leo Villareal’s Hive brings LED colors to the Bleecker St. station?
    The sanitary conditions of the subway stops out of the area above 72 Street are appalling. The Broadway tunnel which connects the 191 Street Number 1 stop with Broadway has not been swept in months. There is standing water on the North side of the tunnel that runs its entire length (this is West Nile Virus Season). Half the lights do not work or are dimmed. It is unsafe, unhealthy, dirty, scary and dangerous.

    This smacks of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns.

    • Billy G says:

      Operating budget != CapEx budget.

    • Andrew says:

      That tunnel is NYCDOT property. It’s not under MTA jurisdiction. If you don’t like its condition, put pressure on DOT to do something about it. How the MTA is spending its capital dollars is irrelevant.

      You do realize, I hope, that that 191st itself was fully rehabbed in 2003 (and that plenty of stations north of 72nd, and outside Manhattan, have also been rehabbed)? And that most of the beneficiaries of the new Bleecker transfer are not Manhattan residents?

    • Bolwerk says:

      I seem to remember federal funding guidelines either encourage or require some of the financing go to art. I would guess either the MTA was required to have some art, or they figured they may as well take the money if they’re going to get federal financing anyway.

      Since that art is actually functional, if gaudy, maybe they actually found a good way to dispose of an otherwise pointless requirement.

      • HOLD says:

        Yes this is true but on 1 artist? Why not spread that money out over 100-200 artists? Then they would actually have a collection that might be worth something one day and also be of education/cultural value to the NY community.

  10. Davide-NYC says:

    I have been waiting for this transfer to be possible for almost 40 years. This should be satisfying… when it finally opens.

  11. Juan Castillo says:

    At what time will the new (B)(D)(F)(M)(6) transfer be open today?

  12. HOLD says:

    Villareal charges a min of around $100,000 for public projects of this scale. That’s just for his fee. The piece itself was between $200,000-$300,000 based on his previous sales. So the MTA spent between $300,000-$400,000 on ONE artwork in ONE station. If you remember last winter the Uniqlo ads all over the subway that added a much needed bump in the MTA advertising revenue. They were annoying by made the MTA enough money to save them from laying off 300 MTA employees. That means they made something in the 10-20 million range from Uniqlo ads.

    • Nathanael says:

      At least it was functional artwork. The MTA was able to eliminate the cost of installing ordinary lights in this area, I would expect… and LEDs are cheap to operate.

      There have been worse choices for “Arts in Transit”. Other good choices include getting artists to do the wall tiling.


  1. […] daily ebb and flow of subway commuters. The louder complaints though concern the infrastructure. As pulsating LED lights have debuted at Bleecker St., riders from outside the core of the system are less than thrilled […]

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