Dec
05

Video: A glimpse inside the 7 Line extension

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The 7 line extension has turned into the MTA’s silently (quasi-)successful capital project. Its initial problems — the lack of a station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. — and a subsequent short delay in revenue service have faded from the news, and now the MTA and its contractors are engaged in a race to the finish. In about 12-18 months, the first subway extension in decades will open.

For a while, I called the 7 line extension the subway to nowhere. It was proposed to serve the Olympic village that never happened and a Hudson Yards development that will take decades to realize. Lately, though, the main driver for development has been moving forward. While Related still isn’t obligated to make payments to the MTA, that date is nearing, and officials gathered to commemorate groundbreaking at the site. With Coach on board and L’Oreal nearing a deal, tenants are starting to snap up the space, and the subway line will deliver workers to Manhattan’s final undeveloped frontier.

So what does a subway line nearly finished look like? That’s what MTA videographer Shawn Kildare wanted to know, and he produced the video embedded above. There’s some work to be done yet, but the 7 line, sans that important Hell’s Kitchen stop, is heading down the home stretch.



Categories : 7 Line Extension

155 Responses to “Video: A glimpse inside the 7 Line extension”

  1. Bolwerk says:

    It’s impressive, but it also parades the the problems with this whole endeavor. It’s too deep and absurdly overbuilt.

    • Overbuilt? Yes, and you can blame federal regulations for it. Too deep? I’m not so sympathetic to that argument. You have to thread this tunnel underneath the Lincoln Tunnel. They had no choice but to go deep.

      • Isn’t building stations too deep (save money on the tunneling, blow it on the station excavations) the MTA way? I have no specific information about this project, but “too deep” seems to be a valid criticism for most large MTA capital projects.

        • Bolwerk says:

          I’m not sure they exactly save money on tunneling this way either. There are probably a few firms in the world with TBM experience, while any local construction company can dig a trench. Sections of cut and cover can be done in weeks, so just think of the added labor cost of hiring people to man a TBM for literally years.

          The major reason for using TBMs is probably that it doesn’t annoy as many people at once.

        • al says:

          The bedrock slopes away on the west side of Manhattan. They had to freeze the soil to bore through sections of it. That is the issue with station caverns. You need bedrock or soil improvements to have stable soil to excavate. They couldn’t do a trench box with the West Side Yard, Empire Service Tunnel, and North River Tubes overhead.

          Check out the cluster of underground and below grade rail facilities around 11th Ave and 34th st.

          http://www.thetransportpolitic.....-Plans.png

      • Bolwerk says:

        I can buy it’s a real problem, but I have trouble buying the Lincoln Tunnel is that much of a problem. The EIS PDFs are crashing my browser,* but the tunnel landing is at 40th Street per the scoping document. At 11th Avenue, they might very well have been able to thread over or under, and either way they have a few blocks for an upward grade.

        Just eyeballing that video at 1m15s, that depth looks north of 10 stories using the building above as a guide. Sometimes you need a deep station for any number of reasons, but this just seems nuts to me.

        * I’m not home, and can’t monkey with it – but I tried looking here for more detail about depths.

  2. Patrick says:

    Tell me I heard that right. An Inclined Elevator
    WT… How the hell does THAT work

  3. I give Mr. Kabak credit for graciously allowing things have changed, and that this work no longer is the subway to nowhere. It’s good for all of us (this writer included) to remember a New York variant of the axiom on weather: If you don’t like the neighborhood, wait five minutes.

  4. Rob says:

    Is that a LIRR train to the right at 2:47?

    • Frank B says:

      Hahaha, that DOES look like an LIRR train.

    • Paul says:

      It does look like an M-7 commuter rail car on the right. And the train on the left looks like the current 7 line rolling stock. Running 30 year old cars into a brand new station will kill the visual appeal of the platform level.

  5. Eric Brasure says:

    Did he say that this will be the most used station in 2020? I, uh… what?

    • AG says:

      2020 might be a little early… but if/when Hudson Yards (which officially broke ground earlier this week) gets built out (and the area north of it – it is possible since that will be the only subway station in the area. Let’s also remember that the Javits is there (which it seems the protest of the convention industry to the governors idea has cooled talk of moving it). Still a shame there will be no station at 41st and 10th.

      • Eric Brasure says:

        More than Times Square?

        • AG says:

          I can’t say…. I don’t have the proverbial crystal ball… but again… ppl can use many stations to access Times Square itself rather than just the actual “Time Square”. We’ll see what happens.

          • Alon Levy says:

            It’s not going to be busier than Times Square. Times Square is connected to five lines, not just one. It’s really hard for a single-line station to get even 100,000 riders a day, where Times Square has nearly 200,000.

            Tokyo has just a handful of over-100,000 single-line stations, but those are usually bidirectional rather than termini, and often also have transfers to competing companies’ rail lines (for example, Kita-Senju on JR East), which boosts their development prospects. Moscow’s busiest subway station, with about the same traffic as Times Square, is a single-line terminus, but it’s a busy transfer hub to a major commuter rail line. Seoul’s busiest subway proper station, Gangnam, is single-line, but it is bidirectional, has only 123,000 riders per day, and has way more development than the Far West Side will have. London’s busiest stations are all interchanges; the busiest single-line station, Canary Wharf, ranks 9th, has 60,000 daily riders, and is London’s second CBD. Paris’s busiest lines are interchanges. Etc.

            • Miles Bader says:

              The entire concept of a city-center terminus without any transfers seems slightly bizarre to me…

            • Someone says:

              Gangnam is actually served by 2 lines…

            • Henry says:

              Not to mention that a lot of people getting to 34th St will be transferring at Times Square anyways, so it wouldn’t really make much sense for 34th to be much busier.

              Maybe the case would change when something big happens at the Javits Center, but even then it wouldn’t be as dramatic as say, DC Metro during Obama’s ’08 inauguration.

              • Adirondacker12800 says:

                The MTA only counts people paying a fare – using a turnstile from outside of the system to get into the system. If you are changing trains – say going from Grand Central to Penn Station and just changing trains at Times Square – you don’t get counted.

            • AG says:

              well i’m sure there is a reason he made the statement. it could be he’s not counting ppl transferring. Again if/when Hudson Yards is built out – the plan is to have millions and millions of square feet of commercial and residential square feet… with only one station serving it. I don’t have all the MTA projections… but I’m sure the video was viewed and edited – so he said it for a reason. It may never happen… but it’s a fact that neither one of us know.

        • Andrew says:

          Times Square is a station complex consisting of five distinct stations (IRT 7th Avenue, IRT Flushing, IRT Shuttle, BMT, and IND) with ten distinct platforms.

          This will be a single station with a single platform. It’s not going to be busier than the Times Square complex, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it ends up busier than any other single station or single platform.

          • Someone says:

            The IND never built a station at Times Square. It’s known as 42nd St-PABT and actually was originally intended to serve the Port Authority Bus Terminal a block away from TS. The passageway to the TS complex was opened relatively recently, in 1988.

            On the subject of the Javits Center station, it will probably be the most-used station that serves a single line.

      • Bruce M says:

        Maybe that’s when he really expects it to open.

  6. AlexB says:

    I’m curious what “too deep” really means. If we compare modern bored subways to the original cut and cover tunnels, then every station will be too deep. Bored tunnel systems are always going to be too deep for short trips on a local line. The stations are too expensive to be located every 5-10 blocks like the NY subway, and the time it takes to get to and from the platform make them worthwhile only for trips that are close to a mile or longer. If you are saying that too deep means you have to ride escalators for 2-3 minutes, then I disagree if the destination is important enough. A 5 minute train ride from Grand Central plus a 3 minute escalator ride is still a much faster option to the far west side than taking a cab, riding a bus, or walking.

    • In Spain, which has the world’s best and most dynamic tunneling/subway construction industry, stations are kept as close to the surface as possible. Partly to keep station excavation costs down (those deep underground stations are incredibly expensive…see the cost of the 10th Ave. shell, for example…can’t remember exactly, but it was at least half a billion), but also to keep station access times down (to say nothing of safety…if a bomb goes off underground, you want to be able to get out of there as quickly as possible!). Sure, 2-3 minutes on an escalator is better than nothing, but 30 seconds climbing up a small flight of stairs is even better.

      • Miles Bader says:

        which has the world’s best and most dynamic tunneling/subway construction industry

        Even if that were true, it has little to say about the merits (or demerits) of their station designs.

        The choice of tunneling or cut-n-cover is driven by tons of factors, many of which are very local (e.g., “what’s in the way?”). That Spain found it possible to go shallow for some of their subways is nice for them (I think given a reasonable option, most would choose shallow), but it’s not very relevant to NYC.

        • It’s not a simple choice of “tunneling or cut-and-cover” (by the way, they’re all tunneling projects!). There are all sorts of tunneling methods and submethods, and all sorts of depths at which you can do them.

          As for it being “not very relevant to NYC” – it’s exactly that sort of uncritical sentiment that leads us to build station for half a billion dollars and stick them 10 stories belowground when there are no supertall skyscraper foundations, rivers or other subway lines to tunnel below. Of course our new subway stations can’t be as close to the ground as a greenfield station on the outskirts of Barcelona, but does it really have to be ten stories below ground?

          • Miles Bader says:

            As for it being “not very relevant to NYC” – it’s exactly that sort of uncritical sentiment that leads us to build station for half a billion dollars and stick them 10 stories belowground when there are no supertall skyscraper foundations, rivers or other subway lines to tunnel below. Of course our new subway stations can’t be as close to the ground as a greenfield station on the outskirts of Barcelona, but does it really have to be ten stories below ground?

            Pointing out that your original comparison was fairly meaningless isn’t “uncritical sentiment.”

            If you think this line/station could have been built differently then you’re going to have to argue that based on the actual situation in NYC.

            [and note that I'm not saying it couldn't have been made shallower; maybe it could have [at reasonable cost etc]. But so far this thread is all empty complaints, with no actual supporting evidence for a viable alternative.]

            • Bolwerk says:

              I rather agree with Stephen. There is a case to be made for some depth for this station, and Ben made it, but what I don’t see a single factor that calls for this being 10+ stories deep. Yes, the Holland Tunnel intersects probably 4-6 blocks north. But otherwise, it’s on a rather vacant, peripheral avenue that is itself being redeveloped for residential life.

              Maybe it’s true there is some factor we’re not aware of, but the immediate environment around the station just doesn’t seem to call for it, and in fact almost seems to suggest a shallow station would do nicely. Also, Stephen isn’t calling this out in a vacuum either; most of the MTA’s recent stations have been like this, as if they think it’s preferred rather than a (reasonable) last resort.

  7. Christopher says:

    Thanks for sharing this. And, in the spirit of internet nit-pickery, I feel obliged to point out that the site was proposed for the Olympic Stadium that never was, not the Olympic Village, which would have been at Queens West.

    And can I get an inclined elevator? Please? That looks like fun.

    • Woody says:

      You can get your own personal inclined elevator from where it is they get them in Vina del Mar, the beach resort near Santiago, Chile. The homes of the prosperous are perched on a cliff above the beach (well above the A zone, we assume) and cute little funiculars connect the homes to the beach level.

      The nearby port of Valparaiso (like a 19th century San Francisco that was left stranded when the Panama Canal opened) has about 17 full scale funiculars still working from more than 100 years ago.

      Yeah, I’d like one too. Soon as I get my beach house on the cliff.

  8. Someone says:

    “…the first subway extension in decades will open.”
    Uhh… does the new South Ferry station count as an extension? It opened 3 years ago, and it’s technically a new station, on new track.

  9. Someone says:

    So, are they still planning platform screen doors for the new station? And what of the platform screen doors planned for the Second Avenue Subway?

    • Patrick says:

      Hell no. The MTA isn’t paying for PSD’s cause then the HAVE to also fork over for Vent systems in stations

      • Someone says:

        Ok, I was just wondering, because this is one of the few places the MTA can try PSDs, aside from the remainder of the A Division and the Canarsie Line. If they’re going to fork over $1 million per platform for PSDs, this is one of the few chances they’ll have.

        • Patrick says:

          Oh there’s plenty of other places PSD’s can go
          *tries hard not to reference Monday night @ 49th St*

          • Someone says:

            49th Street is a virtually impossible location to install PSDs (at least right now.) The cars are of different lengths. The R46s on the R are 75 feet long and have 64 pairs of doors, while the R160s on the N and Q are 60 feet long and have 80 pairs of doors.

            When the new R211 order is delivered (hopefully it consists of 60-foot cars), the MTA can consider PSDs for the entire Broadway line. As of now, however, installation of PSDs is impossible in that location.

            By the way, there’s a difference between sheer stupidity (pushing an innocent guy onto the tracks) and accidents (which PSDs are meant to prevent.) Not that pushing the victim on the tracks was justified.

            • Patrick says:

              Ease up man damn. i know the length of the trains. Even if we forget about PSD’s on the Broadway Line for awhile, there is STILL places PSD’s can go. Whether somebody falls or somebody is pushed, what happens after if no one moves quick enough is ENOUGH of a reason to tell them suits, NYCT NEEDS PSD’s

              • John-2 says:

                They can do them now on the IRT and on the Eastern Division (J/L/M/Z) since those are the places where train lengths and door slots are standardized. But given the MTA’s history with platform accessories with moving parts (escalators, elevators), they’d probably be best off doing some testing at a low- or medium-use station first, before they start setting up sliding doors at Grand Central or Bedford Avenue.

                • Matthew says:

                  Incorrect. Although the IRT only has three car classes, the R62s and R62As have different door placements than the R142, R142A and R188s.

                  The R62 series have doors directly across from each other, as do R142 and R188 cab cars. Non-cab cars have the doors offset.

                  Even though the IRT East Side currently has a homogenous fleet, that will change as the R62As are displaced from the 7 train by the R188s.

                  • Patrick says:

                    IRT West side except for Union Square can fitted with doors. I don’t know about the local side/stops (since the R62As are probably gonna be displaced to either the 6 or the Atlantic Ocean) but definitely the express side/stops of the platform

                  • Patrick says:

                    EAST!!! IRT EAST SIDE

                  • Someone says:

                    But both sides of doors aren’t going to be opened at exactly the same time, are they? Unless there are platforms on both sides of the train car, which few stations have. Otherwise, the distance between the doors on each side of the cars is more or less similar. In the IND and BMT however, the 75-foot cars only have 64 pairs of doors for an 8-car trainset, compared with the 60-foot cars that have 80 pairs of doors.

        • Bolwerk says:

          I read a figure like $33,000/door. Sounds like a bargain.

          Instead of platform screen doors, how about OPTO and more trains? Platform safety improves because of less crowding, money is saved because of lower staffing needs. If there is still a need for PSDs after that, then do it.

  10. Peter says:

    The MTA has spent a lot of money building excess capacity at this new station, but what about capacity improvements elsewhere along the 7? If this station is as busy as the MTA is predicting, there is going to be a big increase in transfers along the 7 at Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and Grand Central, all of which suffer to one degree or other already from crowding and too-narrow stairways and passages.

    • Andrew says:

      Agreed – is the city going to pay for improvements at those stations or is the MTA going to have to foot the bill?

    • Matthew says:

      I know in the East Side Aces EIS they projected that the project would reduce peak hour ridership between queens and manhattan to drop by about 5000 riders an hour on the 7 line once it opened up since the riders would be able to take LIRR to GCT.

      • TP says:

        I really hope this number takes into account the price difference between the subway and LIRR. I think Queens 7 riders are very price sensitive.

        • Henry says:

          Port Washington pretty much parallels the 7 into Flushing and then goes through Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck, but service is rather infrequent off-peak and the fares are really high.

          If service were improved and fares were to go down, the Port Washington Line could be used as a relief line for the 7, but that’s not happening any time soon.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Isn’t that the part where the 7 has some extra capacity?

        Though, I suppose much of that 7000 could still be transferring to the 7 in Flushing.

        • Henry says:

          From experience, a lot of people get off either at QBP or at GCT, and crowding is easier to deal with after QBP.

          With CBTC and new rolling stock coming online within the next few years, the crowding situation should ease.

          Flushing just needs more exits.

      • Andrew says:

        I highly doubt anywhere close to 5000 LIRR riders transfer at Woodside or Hunterspoint to the 7 to reach Grand Central. Maybe 500.

        • Henry says:

          Probably not, but you could take the Port Washington in from Flushing or points east of Flushing into GCT rather than bus + train.

          LIRR is still ridiculously expensive for that kind of trip though, so I doubt they’d do it.

    • Henry says:

      Times Square and 5th Av are certainly crowded, but Times Square can definitely handle the extra crush, and 5th Av probably could too – the passage between the 7 and the 6th Av Line isn’t that narrow, and the platforms at Times Square and 5th Av are wide enough.

      GCT would be more of an issue, if only because the passageways are really narrow, but that’s the case at a lot of places along the Lexington Avenue Line (especially Canal St)

  11. Terratalk says:

    Sorry for coming into the conversation late but why wasn’t a station built at 41st and 10th … and/or why can’t one be added later … too deep?

  12. Kevin Walsh says:

    5 years and counting for one stop. Under today’s rules, the IRT, begun in 1900, would have opened its original 28 stations by, oh, 1970 or so.

    • Patrick says:

      You know how much stuff has to get inspected & supported in those “5 years”

    • Henry says:

      In 1900 workers dying in workplace accidents wasn’t really a major concern, workers had little to no benefits, and the pay was a dollar a day. Also, there was pretty much nothing underground except building foundations and pipes.

      Today construction workers earn a decent living and the 7 has to go under the Lincoln Tunnel, skyscrapers, and the West Side Yard.

      • Alon Levy says:

        Paris. Madrid. Milan. Athens. (Insert the name of any non-Anglophone city you like.)

        • Henry says:

          I accept that the US, and specifically New York, has an inability to rein in ridiculously high costs due to various factors (Buy America, antiquated work rules, a byzantine bidding process, etc.)

          However, IMO comparing conditions to a century ago is like comparing apples to oranges.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Maybe apples to crabapples. Eh, I dunno, I can’t explain that simile.

            Anyway, opting for 21st boring/mining techniques instead of 21st century cut and cover techniques is NOT safer for workers. There of course is the occasional need for boring (getting under existing rivers, maybe major infrastructure sometimes), but bringing up workplace conditions a century ago makes no sense.

            To say the least, mobile construction equipment was in its infancy then, and the work was much more labor-intensive.

    • Someone says:

      There were no pre-existing subway tunnels back then and they pretty much did the whole original IRT with cut and cover. They also had thousands of workers digging the entire thing by hand Now, they have to excavate using deep-level tubes and also dig through the lower level of the 42nd Street- Port Authority station and existing pipes. Now imagine 27 of these scenarios in the original IRT…

  13. John-2 says:

    The 7 at Grand Central is already a pretty deep tunnel station, especially with the escalators at the Third Avenue end of the station — it’s just not as noticeable mid-platform, because people access it via the Lex platforms, which themselves are already two levels below Grand Central. But the platforms are 4-5 levels beneath 42nd Street, so I doubt the 7 at Hudson Yards is going to be all that much deeper.

  14. Patrick says:

    Amazing how my one question about a elevator can spark a commenting storm

  15. corey best says:

    Only in New York….

  16. John Doe says:

    Just curious, if the funds ever materialized for a station at 41st & 10th, would the line West have to be shut down to build it????

  17. corey best says:

    I’m going to take a wild guess and assume this how the LIRR GCT Elevators will be like?

  18. Eric F says:

    Those ventilation structures are enormous! Makes me wonder whether the rest of the system is properly ventilated…

    • You can thank overly inclusive federal regulations on all of these new oversized ventilation structures. The rest of the system is ventilated just fine, but someone decided we had to protect against who knows what. Just one of the reasons why new construction costs are so high.

      • Eric F says:

        Ah, I see. I was wondering if the size of the structures was a function of the depth of the line, but we have other fairly deep stations without these huge things. Siting these things in Manhattan alone must really add to the costs.

        • Siting these things in Manhattan alone must really add to the costs.

          Monetary costs and neighborhood costs. The MTA had to eminent domain a few properties along Second Ave. for SAS’ ancillary structures.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Maybe not depth alone, but figure that depth runs more or less from TSq to 34th Street/11th Ave., completely bored underground. It’s no surprise ventilation needs to be more heavy duty than, say, the Roosevelt Island F, which has shallower tunnels nearby in both directions.

      • Andrew says:

        Passive ventilation, as used in most of the subway, doesn’t work with deep stations. And fire safety codes are a lot more stringent than they used to be.

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