While I was musing on the MTA’s capital construction credibility problem yesterday, the MTA decided to open a big-ticket project. At the Board committee meeting yesterday, the agency revealed that the Fulton St. Transit Center finally has an opening date. On Sunday, November 9, the politicians will gather for a largely undeserved photo op, and the building will open to commuters on Monday, November 10 at 5 a.m.
For MTA Capital Construction, this is a good moment. It’s only the second project, after the short-lived South Ferry station, that MTACC has opened, but like South Ferry, this one is a few months late due to some issues with the finishes and occupancy permit. The MTA will also open the Dey St. Concourse early. The passageway, outside of fare control, provides an underground walkway between the Fulton St. subway complex and the R train’s Cortlandt St. station. It may one day connect to the E train and wasn’t supposed to open until the PATH Hub is finished next year. But after months of delays, the MTA is just opening the whole thing at once.
So what are we getting for $1.4 billion? Well, most of the work we already see. The passageways and fancy LED screens are lit up; the hallways are as straight as they can be considering the layout; and everything just looks refreshed. But we’re also getting our headhouse, and for now, it’s simply the system’s fanciest Arts for Transit installation. Westfield is working to bring retail to the Transit Center, but no stores will be open on November 10 when politicians cut their ribbons. For now, the Transit Center is an empty building with lots of natural light and lots of empty space.
But cynicism aside, opening the Fulton St. Transit Center is a big day for Lower Manhattan. Some construction will wrap, and a new building, promised as part of the post-9/11 rebuilding effort a decade ago, will reopen. Onward and upward.