In two years or so, the MTA should be ready to open the Fulton Street Transit Center, and already, at parts, the construction is looking a little tidier. The oculus is taking shape above the main building, and the underground work is progressing apace. There is, however, a rub. According to the Daily News, the Dey St. Passageway may remain shuttered long past the Transit Center’s opening.
Pete Donohue has the story. As the Dey St. headhouse gears up for a looming opening, the concourse between the R and the rest of the Fulton St. station could remain closed for years. Writes Donohue:
For years, Metropolitan Transportation Authority construction and planning schedules have pegged November 2012 as the time for the opening of a new underground connection between the Fulton Center subway complex at Broadway in lower Manhattan and the Cortlandt St. station on the eastern edge of the World Trade Center site…
Yet transit officials now say they plan to keep the Dey St. Concourse padlocked — for several years. The official reason: Few riders will make use of the free transfer. The demand, officials say, will come when the new office towers being built at Ground Zero are completed and occupied, and the Port Authority finishes its permanent — and extravagant — PATH hub. That’s will be in 2015. Maybe. “The small number of people we believe would use the transfer . . . does not justify the expense of opening, maintaining and policing the passage,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg explained.
Incredibly, the MTA says an analysis concluded that if the tunnel were to open as initially planned, just five people an hour would want to use the walkway and make a free transfer between the R train at Cortlandt. St. and the many lines running through Fulton Center. So, then, who will come? The homeless — at least that’s the MTA’s fear. The concern is that the brand-spanking-new concourse might become an encampment for the poor, unmoored souls you see huddled in doorways in the city or standing outside soup kitchens.
We’ve seen this move before played out throughout the system. Sometimes, the problems involve disputes between the MTA and the private entities contracted to open or maintain entrances. Sometimes, the problems focus around maintenance work that, for some reason or another, just isn’t completed in a timely fashion. Sometimes, the problems center around security concerns that are seemingly forgotten to time.
For now, though, as Donohue writes, the MTA will have a passageway to nowhere on its hands. It’s a $200 million provision for the future. Try telling that to all the businesses forced out of their shops above ground as this pristine concourse sits unused for the next three or four years.