Home Fulton Street Is the Fulton St. Transit Center going to open on June 26th?

Is the Fulton St. Transit Center going to open on June 26th?

by Benjamin Kabak

Soon, riders will pass through the Fulton St. Transit Center. For now, we have only renderings.

In late March, as part of a presentation to the its Board committees, the MTA announced an opening date of June 26 for the Fulton St. Transit Center. Years in the making and nearly 100 percent over its initial budget, the post-9/11 project — one of two massive retail/transit centers opening near Ground Zero — become the poster child for MTA construction mismanagement and the project Michael Horodniceanu vowed to deliver on time. Well, June 26th is eight days away, and the Fulton St. Transit Center’s opening date remains shrouded in mystery.

A few days ago, a few readers emailed me concerning the state of the Fulton St. hub. Since I’ve switched to the Brighton Line for my daily commute, I no longer pass through Fulton St. and haven’t had a chance to check out the project in some time. It’s clear that it will open soon, but just how soon is an open question. SAS readers have speculated that the project still has more than a week or two left, but the MTA can and has opened projects that are substantially complete with finishing work still required.

So yesterday, I asked the MTA if the Transit Center is going to open on June 26th — next Thursday — and received a non-committal answer. “The date,” I was told, “will be firmed up next week during committee meetings.” Now, that doesn’t mean the center won’t open a few days after the committee readings, but if I were a betting man, I’d probably take the over.

In the grand scheme of transit history, when the Fulton St. Transit Center opened will quickly become irrelevant. Five months after it opens, we won’t care that the MTA missed its initial promised date, and in five years or five decades, no one will remember. But this deadline bleed isn’t unique to Fulton St. After nearing completion, the South Ferry station opened a few months late, and the 7 line will be nearly a year late. All of these projects struggled to pass that finish line on time, and that’s a little bit of a problem as the MTA needs to retain its credibility to gain more funding. It’s the same problem that plagues staircase repairs, escalator installation and station rehabs. Now who thinks the Second Ave. Subway will start revenue service on time before the end of December 2016? Anyone want to place a bet?

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28 comments

Robbie June 18, 2014 - 4:21 am

Looks like it’s gonna be a photo finish. A few more bits were open as of yesterday (6/17) and a lot of plywood has been replaced with tarps.

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BoerumHillScott June 18, 2014 - 8:16 am

I guess a lot depends on the definition of “open.”

One could argue that it is already “open”, with all of the traffic flow going through new/updated areas.

On the other hand, I would not consider it “complete” until all public spaces are open, and I don’t see that happening in the next few weeks.

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Eric F June 18, 2014 - 8:25 am

I’ve been by the site a few times recently. On a Citibike! The right lane on Broadway next to the site is no longer blocked off, thus freeing up my biking a bit. I noticed the freed up lane this week, so the barrier was removed in the last week or two. The removal implies that there’s no need for perma-storage and siting of supplies for work on the center.

The Corbin Building looks great! I’m not a fan of the MTA keeping it for cost reasons and reasons of the visibility of the center itself. That said, they did a bang up job restoring the exterior and I can’t recommend enough taking a look if you are down there.

It’s very disappointing that the MTA will blow through yet another deadline. Note that these are the MTA’s OWN DEADLINES! It’s not like these deadlines were imposed by the United Nations or something. They were likely padded to begin with.

My big question is whether the “opening” will involve the opening of underground connection to the west. The big pedestrian flow problems down there result from the lack of the undergro9und connections between Fulton and the WTC site. The Dey Street Concourse is intended to solve a lot of that, but with the PATH hall in seemingly permanent construction, I’m assuming that the opening of Fulton Center will not mean a complete opening of all of its aspects, but maybe someone who knows better can comment on that.

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BoerumHillScott June 18, 2014 - 10:18 am

The connection under Dey Street could have been opened a year ago, but since the passage is outside of fare control yet the west end is currently only able to access the fare control areas of R, the MTA decided to keep it closed.

My guess is that it will stay closed until there is an out of fare control exit at the west end.

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BenS June 19, 2014 - 12:11 am

That’s supposed to happen this summer, too, when they hook up the underground PATH exits from the WTC transit hub. Supposed to open in July, I think.

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AlexB June 18, 2014 - 9:19 am

I was there the other day and it looked very far along but not ready to open. A lot of the finishes were not up and big areas were blocked off with plywood walls that did not look ready to come down anytime soon.

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Josh K June 18, 2014 - 9:33 am

When discussing the basis for construction timelines, its important to recognize the importance of “institutional experience” i.e. that experience accumulated from large projects that is passed down through the generations inside a large infrastructure organization. When the MTA started these large mega-projects post-9/11, they formed the “Capital Construction” division. The division came about because in large part no single MTA division had taken on any real, large construction projects since the MTA was created. NYCTA’s last real mega-project was the F-train tunnel under the East River to LIC, MNRR nor LIRR had taken on a true mega project since the MTA’s inception. This means that these agencies had a generational gap, where the designers and construction managers fromthe last big projects didn’t have anyone coming up behind them working on mega projects to pass their knowledge on to. When the current generation started coming up through the ranks, they were largely left to figure it out entirely on their own, at best drawing upon experience from smaller public projects, large private projects or large public projects outside of NYC. These projects however didn’t fully prepare them for the tasks at hand and they had to learn by doing, which of course meant making mistakes. Hopefully the MTA will be able to continue the march of progress they started and build upon this experience.

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Chris June 18, 2014 - 9:47 am

I’m disappointed. I work down near the Fulton Transit Center. I think the underground connections and improvements are great. As for the building on top… it seems like a waste. Its not (sorry) architecturally significant and from a value point of view, I’ve got to imagine the MTA could have generated more revenue by having more floors in a tower structure (or at least something that looked cool) above? Anyway, glad the streets are open. Too bad the 2/3 porting of the complex which was done years ago already needs a face lift.

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Benjamin Kabak June 18, 2014 - 9:49 am

A much taller building, office or residential with ground floors for retail, probably would have been a smarter economic choice. Now we’ll get too short hubs nearly across the street for each other with significant retail square footage all around.

The Corbin Building is really nice inside and out though. They did a great job with it.

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Andres June 18, 2014 - 11:13 am

Ben, you inadvertently revealed (what I believe is) the raison d’etre for the center. It prevents the construction of “a smarter economic choice”, one which would block the eastern views of 195 Broadway (the old AT&T building) and the hotel behind it. Both are (or were) owned by MTA chair Peter Kalikow at the time this project was launched.

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Woody June 18, 2014 - 10:24 pm

This is the most cynical explanation I’ve seen.

And so cynic that I am, I conclude it’s probably the most correct explanation.

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Dan June 19, 2014 - 12:03 am

The Corbin Building was made a landmark in 2003, so that complicated some of the MTA’s planning.

Westfield is presumably paying decent money to manage the commercial space at Fulton Center, so I doubt the MTA is complaining about the outcome too much.

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Gary June 18, 2014 - 9:55 am

I could be wrong, but I recall hearing last year that the Dey Street passage would not open until the PATH concourse opens up.

Any word on the anchor tenant? The rendering wishfully implies Apple store, which would be a great tenant. God knows this town can support another one, and there is precedent with GCT.

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Jeff June 18, 2014 - 1:08 pm

http://therealdeal.com/issues_.....-revealed/

The WTC Hub is probably getting the Apple Store.

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asar June 18, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Even if the date was determined to be the 26th, would the passageways connecting the E ,R , and 1 trains be availabe for sercive? I havent heard about them that often

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LLQBTT June 18, 2014 - 1:12 pm

The MTA can focus on running the trains and buses and let someone else do the building.

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Michael T June 18, 2014 - 3:03 pm

I live down here and have been waiting for this for years. In reality, the station is open as you enter now through the new building on Broadway and all the platforms are finished. That’s early in my book (And if the building opens later, who cares? There are no shops or anything there yet). People love to malign the MTA – remember Cuozzo in the Post saying this was a waste of money – now there are tons more people in the area thanks to new development. Improved access is vital.

My question is what’s the deal with countdown clocks. Why aren’t they on? The technology is certainly in place already. Is this being stupidly held for the grand opening ceremony?

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JD June 18, 2014 - 11:57 pm

I pass from one end of the station to the other every weekday. It has been fun to watch the transformation of the station, and overall it will improve transfers and access. We can debate the thinking behind some design choices and the cost, but it will be a great improvement over what was there.

For months and possibly the entire last year, there seemed to be an average of about five people working in the entire complex every day. Just enough to keep the contract in place, I assume. The green-vested cleaning crew typically outnumbered the contractors. Once the end of May rolled around and the opening date popped onto the calendar, there was suddenly a lot of activity. Why they couldn’t do that months ago, boggles the mind.

Last weekend the uptown 4/5 was closed and they made some progress on the transfer area. It’s closed again this weekend so I assume they’ll get a lot more temporary walls removed. There’s still a lot of work to be finished, but this might at least get things moving toward the finish line.

Here’s a typical story from this project. There is a new elevator from the A/C mezzanine on the Jamaica J/Z side to the A/C platform. After a painfully slow installation, I saw a sign saying it would be open at the end of September. The next week I overheard a worker telling the other, “…I don’t know, but at least that sign is down…no way that would happen”. A few months later, I saw them testing it. A week after that, the doors were blocked off and it NEVER moved again. The other two on the A/C platform have been mostly up and running. That’s my benchmark for the project. When that elevator is working, the project is almost done…

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Herb Lehman June 19, 2014 - 10:16 am

I think this whole thing was a spectacular waste of money. While Fulton Street is better than it was after a decade of construction and inconvenience, it’s still an awful transfer point that I try to avoid at all costs.

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Phantom June 19, 2014 - 10:29 pm

Herb

I quite agree. An eye popping amount of money has been spent over a long period of time for what looks to be a truly minimal benefit.

The new elevators and escalators by William St are breaking down already. The new metal stairs to the A and C near William are badly designed in an anti ergonomic way – they are of the wrong step height, hard to walk up and down .

I simply have no idea what all those ” workers ” have been doing for all these years to pretend to justify all the millions of dollars.no one cares, since it was federal money, all the boys got their share.

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JD June 19, 2014 - 1:52 pm

More work going on today. The video billboards are going up on the A/C mezz.

What this project really needed was a dedicated transfer from the 4/5 to the 2/3 that avoided the A/C platform. With the wider stairs on the A/C, it’s difficult to walk from one end to the other. A parallel hallway behind the A/C wall that ducked under the J/Z. Expensive, yes.

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tacony June 23, 2014 - 2:18 pm

Funny, I thought this was the main complaint about transferring at Fulton Street and so I just assumed that the new “transit center” would include actual passageways between the other lines instead of using the A/C platform. Now that I actually look at the plan I’m so disappointed. Other than the Dey Street connection to the PATH and R, it doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement.

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Nathanael June 27, 2014 - 11:51 am

The main purpose of the project was actually to provide congestion relief for the 4/5 by breaking out the backs of the walls of the northbound platform. This appears to have been effective.

The secondary purpose was to provide wheelchair access to everything. This appears to have been effective as well.

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Jackass2014 June 21, 2014 - 9:45 pm

Another humongous waste of money by the corrupt unionized workforce of this country. I wish that all public project could be out-sourced to much more cost efficient labor contractors. But I know it’s impossible since the entire infrastructure building of this country has been hijacked by unionized labor by law. How sad.

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APH June 22, 2014 - 7:05 pm

The original rendering was really beautiful: http://thenypost.files.wordpre.....15;300.jpg

The reality is pretty damn ugly

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Jackass2014 June 25, 2014 - 1:28 pm

The reality is pretty damn ugly is partly due to the fact the whole structre is set off on the back round of cracked and old asphalt roads in a permanent state of delapidation, unlike what you see in artists rendering. This is everywhere in NYC. Magnificent buidings errected over ugly ground covered with terrible road surface with decades of neglection.

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APH June 26, 2014 - 11:24 am

Forget about the street in the rendering, the actual structure itself is hideous. Unlike the initial rendering, the building has thick black vertical supports and the dome thing looks like a cooling tower instead of the crystal cathedral. It’s just ugly. But the Corbin building looks great.

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David P June 24, 2014 - 8:52 am

I guess the answer is no. As reported in NYT, they need another 60-90 days http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06......html?_r=0

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