$50 million on one entrace is never a good idea

By · Published on March 19, 2007 · Comments (0) ·

Stylized color pencil New Yorkers taking advantage of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park include…kayakers in the East River? Yummy. (Image courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy)

Every now and then, the MTA avoids spending insane amounts of money on ridiculously small projects. The once-planned subway entrance to the currently-planned Brooklyn Bridge Park falls into just that category.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park – a beautification and redevelopment plan for 76 acres along the Brooklyn waterfront – is set for completion sometime in the 2012 area. As part of the plan, a four-block underground tunnel connecting the park to the 2/3 stop at Clark St. was in the works. But, as The Daily News reports, the $50-million price tag is just a tad bit too much.

A new traffic study for the planned waterfront park has all but ruled out creating a new entrance to the Brooklyn Heights Clark St. station via an underground tunnel. “It’s going to be very expensive and will have engineering challenges,” said Jee Mee Kim, the project director with the traffic consulting firm Sam Schwartz PLLC…

The Clark St. subway station on the 2 and 3 lines has an entrance on the corner of Henry St. The proposal found that opening an entrance nearer the waterfront – at least four blocks away – would cost $30 million to $50 million.

Well, phew. I can think of much better uses for $50 million than one subway entrance for a pre-existing stop. How about a totally brand new subway line? Some cleaner cars? A better public address system? $50 million buys a lot of neat stuff.

And for those of you eagerly awaiting the park, new bus routes, water taxis and increased pedestrian and bike access points will make this green oasis with great views of Manhattan easily accessible when it finally opens in five or six years.

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If you see something, blog about it

By · Published on March 19, 2007 · Comments (3) ·


Don’t worry about terrorists; K9 Emily is on the prowl.

As I rode the uptown local from 66th St. to 96th St. this afternoon after catching a movie at the Lincoln Square Cinemas, my eye alit upon the ad above. Except it was in Spanish. So for four stops, I got a huge kick out of the ad that read, “Usted usa sus ojos. Ella usará su hocico.”

I’ll use my eyes; she can use her snout. I felt safer already.

Unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t the only one noticing the MTA’s ubiquitous yellow anti-terrorism ads urging individual attention to suspicious things in the subway. (And, no, we’re not talking about the guy selling pirated DVDs as suspicious as that may be.) Since I didn’t get a chance to read the Friday business section in The Times, I missed this brilliant article on the successes of the “If you see something, say something” advertising campaign.

The short version: In the post-9/11 climate, the MTA hired Korey Kay and Partners to come up with a catchy slogan. They’ve certainly succeed as more than 30 organizations worldwide now use some variation on the theme.

They include the Alexandria Transit Company in Virginia; the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia; Bay Area Rapid Transit; the Chicago Transit Authority; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; and TriMet in Portland, Ore.

“We wanted something that was punchy and catchy enough to not fade in the background,” said Christopher P. Boylan, a deputy executive director at the M.T.A., “and makes a connection with every one of our passengers.”

At the same time, said Allen Kay, chairman and chief executive at Korey Kay, “there was concern there could be backlash, concern we were using fear tactics,” so consumer research was used to determine perceptions of the theme.

While Kay may have been concerned about the negative backlash, I’m a bigger fan of all of the parodies that seem to find there ways around the Internet and the city. My all-time favorite I spotted a few months ago on a downtown E train. It said, “Bush is still President, say something.” Sadly, I couldn’t capture it for posterity, but others have. Let’s take a look. (All links pop to show the pictures.)

Some folks have taken to using pink pig stickers to lively up the posters. That’s just as good as drawing mustaches on news anchor’s faces. It never fails to amuse.

Then, there are those who edit the slogan a la the President Bush one. I’ve seen many. One of my favorites is “If you see something, run like hell.” That one is poignantly sad in its veracity.

But beyond humor, people have taken to using this slogan as a political statement. Here and here are political diatribes against the current administration.

And even the Spanish signs have provoked the ire of vandals and xenophobes everywhere. When The Post ran an op-ed piece against the Spanish signs during the height of the anti-immigration debate last year, some straphangers decided to cut out the column and stick them behind the plastic ad coverings in the subway. If you see something, say something indeed.

So then is this ad campaign a success? Well, it’s used the world over, and everyone in the city immediately knows what you’re talking about when you mention it. But it seems more humorous than anything else. Everyday, I see weird sh*t in the subway. If I said anything all the time, well, then I would just have to start a blog about it.

Hey, wait a second….

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An almost, somewhat-not-too-bad weekend of subway service

By · Published on March 17, 2007 · Comments (2) ·

So today’s St. Patrick’s day, and everyone wants to get around town. The 7 is running; the 2 and 3 are running down the West Side and into Brooklyn but not on the express tracks in Manhattan. The C is still taking weekends off. And the L is more than a little funky this weekend. So without further ado, click here for all of your weekend service advisories.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Dan Doctoroff hates the 2nd Ave. Subway

By · Published on March 16, 2007 · Comments (4) ·

After a week of good news for the 2nd Ave. subway, leave it to Dan Doctoroff to come and sleet, snow and freezing rain on everyone’s parade.

The Deputy Mayor and former head of the NYC2012 Olympics group threw some not-so-veiled threats in the direction of the MTA yesterday. Doctoroff is concerned about the finances behind the project. It’s so nice of him to worry about money after he was leading the fight to sink $1 billion into an ugly behemoth on the far West Side. The Sun had more:

“It will be the third groundbreaking for the same project. It sounds like the Freedom Tower,” Mr. Doctoroff told a gathering of about 400 transportation professionals at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s annual meeting yesterday, referring to the ground zero memorial that has celebrated multiple groundbreakings but has seen little work thereafter. “We’ve seen how these things play out before.”

The Second Avenue line, known as the city’s greatest transportation project never built, is a planned two-track subway line that will run along Manhattan’s East Side to the financial district from 125th street. Construction on such a line stopped in 1975, when funds for the project ran dry. “We can’t afford that mistake again,” Mr. Doctoroff said. He stressed that even the expected federal funding for the project “does not mean a commitment to completing the job.”

But some involved think that Doctoroff is politicking around. The city – after signing up forthe project originally – has reneged on their promise to construct the 7 line extension; they won’t commit to cover the projected cost overruns.

The MTA has challenged all parties involved to come up with constructive funding proposals to avoid sending the MTA further into debt, and MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander noted that the agency may split construction into small pieces to allow more contractors to bid.

So take that, Dan Doctoroff. This subway will be built with or without your negativity.

That sexy shot of Dan Doctoroff courtesy of Building Congress.


SAS to Brooklyn Record: We’re in a fight

By · Published on March 15, 2007 · Comments (0) ·


Pardon me while I use my blog to air my petty grievances. I’ll be back with your regularly scheduled subway posting later today.

Dear Brooklyn Record:

Let’s start out on a good note: I like you! After living in Manhattan for much of my childhood, I’m now living in Brooklyn, and you have given me a good insight into this vibrant borough. You provide me with news about borough politics, tidbits about life in Brooklyn and info about restaurants that I as a foodie really appreciate.

At the end of each day, you post a so-called “Blog Wrap.” And this why we’re in a fight: Despite my best efforts at self-promotion — a must for any new blog still trying to find an audience on the Internets — you refuse to link to Second Ave. Sagas.

Now, I’m no newbie when it comes to blogging. I’ve been blogging on baseball for three years. I know the courtesies of the Internet, and I’ve helped new blogs get traffic. Now, it’s your turn, Brooklyn Record. Three times, I have sent you Brooklyn-related posts including one this week about the Myrtle Ave. station that was a follow-up to one of your posts. (Yeah, right. Like I’m going to link to it today.)

Instead, you continually post Blog Wrap links to Gothamist posts which often don’t relate to Brooklyn; you love Curbed; and you’re not afraid to give your sister site Brownstoner the occasional shout out. But today you crossed the line.

Oh, today, dear Brooklyn Record, as part of your so-called Blog Wrap, you linked to a post in your own forum that contained a one-line sentence about this upcoming weekend’s L train service and a link to last weekend’s MTA weekend service advisory. Not only is it a blog, but you didn’t even supply the person asking the question with the proper information. (Note: By Friday, the information in the link in question will be correct, but only by dint of the day of the week.)

So we’re in a fight, Brooklyn Record. We’re in a fight until I get my link. I will continue to write about Brooklyn subways and continue to send you my links. But share! Share your links. Be good to a fellow New York blogger. What did I ever do to you?


Second Ave. Sagas

Categories : Self Promotion
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NYCT to Shuttle Riders: Keep on minding the gap, buddy

By · Published on March 15, 2007 · Comments (0) ·

The 42nd Street shuttle awaits passengers while sitting on the Track 3 curve at Times Square. (Courtesy of flickr user gsdali)

In certain stations in the London Underground, a soothing voice with a slight British accent repeats ad nausea to passengers, “Mind the gap.” These stations sit on steep curves in the tracks that lead to a separation of more than a few centimetres between the platform and car edge, and the phrase has taken on a cultural significance that sees it printed on t-shirts and mugs all over London.

In New York, the MTA ignores the gap problem and pushes off necessary repairs for years in order to prioritize other capital projects. As part of the never-ending Times Square rehabilitation project, the MTA planned to fix the gap problem that led to a whopping 12 personal injury claims over the course of five years ending in 2005. But now, the MTA, already searching for solutions to the LIRR gap problem, won’t mind this gap until at least 2010, amNew York reports.

while the MTA worked to renovate much of the Times Square station during the same [five-year] period it quietly decided last year to postpone work on the Shuttle platform until the 2010-14 capital plan is implemented.

“It’s a shame that they pushed it back. It’s like renovating your house and leaving the entrance the same,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert.

The gaps in question — those on Shuttle Track 3 measure up to 14 inches or eight inches more than the accepted six-inch MTA gap — came about because the 42nd Street Shuttle runs on the original IRT route. At 42nd St., the route curved from an east-west track along the Avenue I’m Taking You To to head up north on 7th Ave. The stop at what was never Longacre Square — that name went out of fashion in April of 1904, six months before the first IRT train pulled in to Times Squares — ended up on that curve that brought the train north. And thus there is a gap that must be minded.

While platform extenders make it somewhat less dangerous, the ones in Times Square are underneath the platform unlike the giant noisy sliding things at South Ferry and Union Square. So people still trip, fall and tumble out of wheelchairs. The MTA has taken steps to solve this problem.

Those steps? Said NYCT spokesman Paul Fleuranges to amNY: “We just ask our customers to use the gap fillers and where not possible, take their time and be mindful of the gap.” So, uh, pretty please, don’t trip.

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Myrtle Ave. station lost to time, development

By · Published on March 14, 2007 · Comments (5) ·

A 1939 map of the BMT shows the now-forgotten Myrtle Ave. stop on the edge of the Manhattan Bridge. (Courtesy of NYC Subway Historical Maps)

Before the spate of Second Ave. subway news hit, we were talking about the Masstransiscope in the remains of the old, abandoned Myrtle Ave. stop on the BMT line that runs over the Manhattan Bridge. Abandoned stations hide the mysteries and romance of a lost age in New York City history, and the Myrtle Ave. stop is no different.

For those living in Brooklyn, sick of seeing the N and D glide past the middle tracks at De Kalb Ave. when the R, Q or B just won’t show up, the Myrtle Ave. stop contains the promise, however slim, of an added stop in Brooklyn. For others, this abandoned stop is a playground within the subway. Can we go off on an expotition and romp around the empty platforms?

Nowadays, we can, as NY1 finally reported two weeks after I did, view the old City Hall stop from the 6 as it turns on that steep curve, but the Myrtle Ave. stop is one lost to time.

For starters, the southbound platform at Myrtle Ave. was completely demolished after the station went out of service in 1956. But why the changes? Joseph Brennan, an expert on abandoned stations, explains:

The De Kalb Ave section was the choke point for the entire BMT Broadway subway operation, with a lot of merges and some routings crossing others at grade in the swiches on both sides of the station. The maximum train capacity of the system was set here. After decades of problems, the Transit Authority began a rebuild of the area in 1956, adding some new trackage to eliminate all the grade crossings and provide places to hold trains approaching merge points.

Myrtle Ave station was a casualty of the rebuild. A new track had to be added on the west side to allow for a grade-separated crossing. The original southbound “local” track at the platform had to be depressed to a lower grade to cross under, and the new track wiped out the southbound platform. The northbound platform was left in place but no longer operated.

Still something of a choke point on the system — how many folks sit on a B train while a D crosses in front and how many wish the trains wouldn’t crawl coming down off the bridge — imagine how much worse it could be. To streamline the N and D trains as they bypass De Kalb on the express tracks and head either onto the Manhattan Bridge or into Pacific Street, the Myrtle Ave. southbound platform had to go.

Still, the northbound platform sits abandoned and covered in graffiti. It can no longer be used because the platform is shorter than the long BMT trains now in use. Furthermore, as frequent commenter Peter noted on Monday, the City is allowing a developer who recently purchased the block above the old Myrtle Ave. platform to demolish the access points to the old station. The only way to reach Myrtle Ave., a relic of the early 20th Century subway system, will be through the incredibly dangerous tunnels north of De Kalb Ave.

So the dreams of an abandoned station will go die. Like the ghost stop in front of my parents’ apartment building on West 91st St., the Myrtle Ave. station has lain dormant for 50 years. Soon, all we’ll see are glimpses of a platform through an abandoned zoetrope, and riders will forever wonder just what it was they fleetingly saw out the window.

Categories : Abandoned Stations
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FAQ (and T): Answering your questions on the 2nd Ave. subway

By · Published on March 13, 2007 · Comments (14) ·

All over the city, veteran New Yorkers old enough to remember the 1940s or even the 1970s wondered to themseves, “Can it really be? Is the city really getting ready to build the Second Ave. subway?” The answer seems to be yes, but there’s a lot about this project the public doesn’t know.

Couched in pages upon pages of environmental impact studies and technical engineering documents are the secrets behind the Second Ave. subway line. The Q extension and the T train (Awwww, it’s the QT train!) are still a few years away, but the folks out there are clamoring for more information. So in what I’m sure will become something of a frequent post topic (especially once I really delve into the environmental impact statements and property displacement plans), I present to you the FAQ (and T): Frequently Asked Questions on the Second Ave. Subway. It’s all you ever wanted to know about the Second Ave. subway project and then some.

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MTA ready to grant ‘T’ for 2

By · Published on March 12, 2007 · Comments (13) ·

Boston has it’s T. Philadelphia’s two-line subway system looks like a T. And now, after nearly eight decades in the making New York will be getting its own T line.

That’s right; the MTA is set to sign a contract on my birthday – March 29 – for construction of the oft-delayed Second Avenue subway line, amNew York reported this morning.

Elliot “Lee” Sander, the MTA’s new executive director, and Chairman Peter Kalikow will approve the $333 million contract for the first phase of the project that critics thought would never happen…

Almost immediately after the contract is signed, construction trailers will start to line parts of Second Avenue in the East 90s, MTA officials said.

The groundbreaking ceremony, along with actual digging, is scheduled for late April or early May. The exact location has not been determined.

This announcement comes a week after Kalikow noted the inevitability of the new subway line. Construction will begin nearly immediately after the contract is signed in a few weeks, and the so-called T train will be the first new subway line built in over 60 years. But hold on to your hats, folks.

This part of the Second Ave. subway line, schedule for completion in 2013, will contain a whopping three new stations. The new stops will be at 96th St., 86th St. and 72nd St. with a connection to the current stop at 63rd St. before the T joins the Q for a trip down to Lower Manhattan. As the diagram above notes, the tunnel north of 96th St. still exists from other failed attempts to build the Second Avenue line and will figure into phase 2 of this project.

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Restoring a zoetrope in an old abandoned Brooklyn station

By · Published on March 12, 2007 · Comments (11) ·

Riders of the Manhattan-bound B and Q trains know there’s something out there. Shortly before the trains go above ground on the Manhattan Bridge, alert riders can spot a glimpse of…something. It’s not a solid tunnel wall; daylight streams through a series of slits in a temporary wall blocking whatever it is that’s there.

Well, that something is actually a very old and long-abandoned subway station. It is an old elevated subway stop at Myrtle Ave. that hasn’t seen passengers since July of 1956, over 50 years ago. While abandoned stations dot the subway system — and alert passengers on the East and West Side IRT trains know where to stop them — the Myrtle Ave. station is unique because it once served as the staging grounds for a work of art:

Two hundred twenty-five hand-painted panels sit behind those mysterious slits. When viewed properly and at the right speed, those panels form a picture. It’s a life-sized subway zoetrope.

But the Masstransiscope has fallen on hard times. Installed in the 1980s by filmmaker Bill Brand, the piece, as any astute rider may notice, is completely obscured by graffiti. Now, Brand wants to restore his zoetrope. Originally installed at a price tag of $60,000 and through the aid of the NEA and the New York state Council on the Arts, Brand estimates it could cost up to $40,000 to restore it, and the MTA’s Arts for Transit program can’t cover the restoration costs.

“Around 1990, we fixed it up,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Arts for Transit program. At that time only the light bulbs needed to be replaced, and the MTA received a donation of bulbs. Now, however, the electrical work needs to be entirely redone. Arts for Transit isn’t willing to shell out the estimated $35,000-$40,000 for restoration.

“I need to produce works that will be here 30 or 40 years with that kind of money,” Bloodworth said. Masstransiscope, she added, “gets damaged so quickly. It gets painted over with break-ins.”

While twenty years ago, Brand convinced graffiti artists to tag elsewhere simply by asking nicely, times have changed. Graffiti in the subways is no longer about the art of graffiti; instead, it’s about tagging a name on as much MTA property as possible. And Brand knows he would face an uphill battle to keep the Masstransiscope viewable.

The MTA will coordinate the restoration. Now, Brand just has to raise some money to restore an interesting work of art that would lend some color to an otherwise sluggish ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Hat tip to Brooklyn Record.

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