Home Brooklyn An MTA problem grows in Brooklyn

An MTA problem grows in Brooklyn

by Benjamin Kabak

Brooklyn pols are looking for more than just this quick fix to some prominent Brooklyn subway problems. (Photo by flickr user Gatto Arancione)

Once upon a time, Jay St./Borough Hall and the 4th Ave./9th St. stops were two of the nicer destinations in the subway system. The former served as the headquarters for New York City Transit while the later once featured windows overlooking 4th Ave. with Brooklyn beyond.

Today, these stations are among the worst in the system. The Jay St. stop is forever in a state of disrepair, and as numerous photos show, the station appears to be a permanent work zone. Further down the F line, a long-overdue rehab for the 4th Ave./9th St. stop got the axe when the MTA’s finances went south.

Now, Brooklyn politicians and residents are demanding solutions to these blighted stations. On the Jay St., side, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz wants the MTA to address both the state of the station and its former headquarters, no empty, at Jay St. Reports a trio of Daily News staff writers:

Despite promises to spruce it up, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has let 370 Jay St. and its subway hub become a “blight on the face of downtown Brooklyn,” said…Markowitz. “This section of Jay St. is an embarrassment – and our commuters, residents and local businesses deserve better…”

Most of the 14-story building, which the MTA leases from the city, is vacant. The facade is wrapped in scaffolding and black mesh, giving it the look of a haunted house.The subway station is even worse, with columns that are missing tiles, lots of chipping paint and large sections of the platform sealed off with plywood.

MTA officials insist they are going to invest $106 million to rehabilitate the station and that funds to fix the building above it are in the next capital improvement plan.

Famous last words from the MTA.

Meanwhile, the Park Slope Civic Council has called upon the MTA to prioritize the mess at 4th Ave./9th St. The council wanted the MTA to open a long-shuttered second entrance to the busy station, improve the dim lighting underneath the Gowanus Viaduct and court retail for the deserted stretch of 4th Ave. under the station. The MTA will not be adopting any of these proposals at the current time.

While this is always a matter of money that the MTA doesn’t have right now and probably won’t have in the future, it’s a shame that these Brooklyn stations continue to get the shaft. Brooklyn, after all, features some of the more beatific rides in the city. If only its stations matched the scenery.

You may also like


Scott E October 21, 2008 - 8:48 am

It sounds like the Jay St. building is owned by the city, and MTA is just a tenant. In that case, I would think NYC, as a landlord, would be responsible for maintaining the facade.

Regarding stations, I don’t see the MTA making an honest effort to fix it. Again, this is where I believe the city should step in, make the repairs, and bill the MTA. In the suburb where I live (and I believe city laws are similar in this case), I am responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of my house and making sure the property does not present a safety hazard (i.e. overgrown weeds or stagnant water that attracts bugs). The town can also take action if my home is a blight on the community. If there’s a problem, the town sends a warning to fix it – and if I don’t, they make the repairs and bill me for the costs.

If the city can manage the repairs, either by friendly relationship or by brute force, that’s the only way it will get done. It won’t turn the station into a “crown jewel” as I’m sure the MTA would like, but it would remedy some of the unsafe conditions and make it a little nicer.

Tania October 21, 2008 - 9:47 am

I still maintain that the worst station in the system is The Chambers Street Station on the JMZ. The station is huge and so frighteningly decrepit. The photos where the new trains are in the station is fine but between the stations size and generally shitty nature, I make it an aim to never go there.

Scott E October 21, 2008 - 11:00 am

That’s true, Chambers JMZ is pretty lousy. But since it’s entirely underground, it can’t really be considered a blight on the landscape. In contrast, the elevated 4th Ave/9th St station casts a dark, ominous shadow on the street. businesses, and neighborhood beneath it.

How to Get Out of Carnegie Hall - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com October 21, 2008 - 11:38 am

[…] pledged to rehabilitate the decrepit Jay St./Borough Hall and 4th Ave./9th St. stations and now Brooklyn politicians and citizens want to collect on their million dollar promises. [2nd Ave […]

Jay Dub October 21, 2008 - 11:53 am

Get with the program! Full rehab underway at Jay St. as we speak.

Benjamin Kabak October 21, 2008 - 12:00 pm

That full rehab has been going on for years. You’ve missed the point.

Scott C October 21, 2008 - 12:13 pm

I use Jay Street twice a day. The platform rehab has been going on for less than a year. Not sure about the mezz, since I’m only transferring trains.

Benjamin Kabak October 21, 2008 - 12:16 pm

Ok, “years” is a bit of an exaggeration, but considering how long it’s been going on and how little progress they’ve made, you can’t blame Brooklynites for being dismayed. Look at 59th St. or 96th St. on the West Side; those have been undergoing renovations for the same amount of time (or less time) than Jay St. and have seen much more progress.

Jay Dub October 21, 2008 - 2:52 pm

It’s a 4-year project (over $150 mil) that will be completed in 2011. Stop your whining.

Benjamin Kabak October 21, 2008 - 2:55 pm

Oy. I’m not the one whining. The Brooklyn pols are whining. I’m just relaying the info. The only times I ever use the Jay St. stop are while I’m sitting on the F. It’s doesn’t really impact my life.

I also believe that Markowitz is just as concerned by the neglect happening above ground as they are the state of the station. Yes, it will be overhauled soon. That’s good.

Dan October 21, 2008 - 12:42 pm

That’s probably (in part) because a lot of the work is in building the connector to Lawrence St so far. Who knows what the status of that is, but walking down Willoughby it looks like they’re doing something.

Scott C October 21, 2008 - 2:36 pm

Exactly. They are also making the station (although after the connection it will be a complex) fully ADA accessible. I can say that every morning for the past few weeks there is a lot of jackhammering from behind the blue walls.

eric October 21, 2008 - 1:59 pm

59th street columbus circle on the A,B,C,D lines is more of a hub than jay street and it’s in worse condition. That work has been on and off for at least 13 years.

Dave October 21, 2008 - 4:05 pm

How about focusing on actually having F trains come to the station? At least 3 times a week I sit in the station and watch 5-6 A/C trains pull through before one F train. I don’t care if I am standing in cow dung, as long as I don’t have to stand there for 15 minutes.

Max October 21, 2008 - 10:03 pm

Columbus Circle is the slowest-moving station rehab in the history of mankind!

Marc Shepherd October 22, 2008 - 9:43 am

Not all rehabs are the same. Columbus Circle is an unusually complex one.

Think twice October 22, 2008 - 2:04 pm

Push for adopt-a-station and temporary naming rights.

Ron November 3, 2008 - 11:10 pm

There is a lot of work going on with the Lawrence St connection. As with any new tunnel the biggest pain has been utility relocation. Last I saw, the whole south end mezz was all torn up to make way for the connection.

The station is a complete mess though.

Mass Transit in the Stimulus; Shanghai’s Rail Boom « the transport politic December 29, 2008 - 6:22 am

[…] More renovated LIRR and subway stations, including those in Brooklyn that were recently delayed (as Second Avenue Sagas describes) […]


Leave a Comment