Home MTA Construction Inside the Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette construction

Inside the Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette construction

by Benjamin Kabak


A close-up of the planned realignment of the uptown IRT platform at Bleecker St. (Courtesy of Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects. Click to enlarge.)

A long, long time ago — May 30, 2007, to be exact — I unveiled architectural renderings of a station connection decades in the making. That day, we explored Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects’ plans for a complete renovation of the Bleecker St./Broadway-Lafayette complex.

The overhaul includes a fully ADA-compliant station, but the real catch is a true connection between the 6 on the upper level and the IND stop on the lower level. For decades, this station provided a transfer point only for those coming from and going to the downtown 6 trains but not the uptown trains. The two IRT platforms were off-set by a good 300 feet, and a full transfer to the uptown trains was impossible.

Now, the MTA is overhauling the station. As part of the $94 million project set to wrap up in November 2011, the uptown IRT platform is being extended 300 feet south to line up with its downtown counterpart. The mezzanine above the IND stop at Broadway/Lafayette but below the IRT will be extended east to provide a full transfer, and elevators and escalators will provide all sorts of access.

The project commenced with little fanfare a few months ago, but this week, we’ve seen a flurry of Bleecker St.-related stories emerge. For the subway construction porn aficionados among us, LHP Architects has updated the project page with new renderings, and I’ll show a few at the end of this post.

On a more ground-level basis, Curbed has some stunning pictures of the state of the IRT tunnel as well. These photos — available here and here — show corroding bricks lining the walls to the 105-year-old tunnels. Curbed also notes plans to open a new station entrance in front of the Puck Building on Houston St. for the southern end of the uptown IRT platform.

Finally, of course, we arrive at the construction hiccups. Earlier this week, Heather Haddon reported on some unanticipated problems concerning the nearby Peace Pentagon. This bastion of liberal activism at the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette Sts. is apparently sinking, and the building has been surrounded by scaffolding since 2007. The perilous state of this building is preventing the MTA from embarking on some of the work on the project.

To further complicate things, the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, the owners of the so-called Peace Pentagon, do not have the money to pay for the building upgrades, and everything remains in limbo. While Haddon reported that the MTA is looking into a solution, Transit officials assured me earlier this week that these problems would not delay completion of the station renovation. Paul Fleuranges, Transit spokesman, offered this update:

We are rescheduling this work to start in Jan. 2011 partially due to the scaffolding interference. Moving this work to 2011 will not delay the overall project completion. We have been in touch with the building owner and their lawyers to resolve the issue but have not received any report concerning the building’s condition. We are looking at options that would have our contractor modify the scaffolding to allow him to perform the work.

And that’s that. Exciting times for a station overhaul decades in the making.

After the jump, two additional glimpses into the station renovation. Click the images to enlarge.


A cross-section of the completed renovations reveal elevators, escalators and some crazy LED-based artwork.


Future signs on the mezzanine level at Broadway-Lafayette promise a transfer to the uptown 6.

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Alon Levy July 16, 2009 - 4:55 am

What is this project’s expected completion date?

Andrew July 16, 2009 - 7:08 am

IND, not BMT. The BMT is under Broadway, at the nearby Prince St. station.

(Wouldn’t it be nice if that station could be tied into this complex as well! They’re practically touching, I think.)

paulb July 16, 2009 - 8:02 am

I remember an underpass once linking the downtown and uptown platforms, closed during the …. maybe early 80s? Or could I be thinking of Astor Place?

herenthere July 18, 2009 - 1:11 pm

YES! It’s now blocked up because there was too much crime in the tunnel linking the two platforms, although I think these days linking the IRT Lex. Ave. platforms have far greater benefits.

Cap'n Transit July 16, 2009 - 8:27 am

Alon, the LHP page says “Completion is forecast for November, 2011.”

Curbed says that there always was a mezzanine on the east side of Lafayette, but it’s been closed for years. Presumably it never connected to the uptown IRT platform. This Curbed post shows a stairway that was buried under a parking lot for god knows how long. Thanks, MTA!

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines July 16, 2009 - 8:58 am

[…] Check Out the Latest Pics of the Subway Station Reno at Bleecker St. (Curbed, 2nd Ave Sagas) […]

JebO July 16, 2009 - 10:08 am

Next up, I’d like to see a similar transfer between Junius and Livonia.

Larry Littlefield July 16, 2009 - 10:34 am

I’m glad that this is moving forward, given that the MTA is broke. And I hope those improvements actually under construction get built ASAP, because the cost of senior citizen benefits is set to soar, and there won’t be much money for much else once that happens.

Question: once this improvement is finished, and there is access to the Uptown 6 from entrances south of Houston in Soho, would it be fair and reasonable to close Spring Street Station? Houston Street and Canal Street are 1/2 mile apart, meaning the mid-point is only 1/4 mile from a station.

The reality is that this is the sort of question we will be asking for the next three decades, until Geneation Greed is mostly gone and its debts are paid or inflated away.

Jerrold July 16, 2009 - 7:58 pm

I don’t think that they should start closing stations because of the proximity of other stations.
How about the elderly or disabled passengers, and how about days with bad weather?
After all, they keep up 18th St. and 28th St. on the #1 line.
Beverly Road and Cortelyou Road on the Brighton Line in Brooklyn are only one “long” block apart.
They don’t close those stations, so they should not close Spring St. either.
(By the way, in case anybody is wondering, I DON’T live near the Spring St. station.)

Woody July 16, 2009 - 10:16 pm

Why the impatience to close stations on the LOCAL line? There’s already an Express train if you want to shoot past all these close stations.

And why the digression into a rant against senior citizen benefits? I’m not sure this is the place to discuss it, but I don’t think the facts support your apparent rage against your elders.

Jack July 17, 2009 - 12:53 am

Actually, if you read Larry Littlefield’s posts on other sites (streetsblog, room8, etc) you’ll find that senior citizen benefits is ALL he talks about.

Of course, he’s right you know. We have handed over far too many retirement benefits, and there’s no way we’re going to be able to pay for them.

paulb July 16, 2009 - 10:34 am

Does anyone know the reason for the staggered platforms in the first place? Did it allow a narrower excavation? That’s the only reason I can think of.

Cap'n Transit July 16, 2009 - 10:44 am

That’s the reason it’s been done in other places, Paulb, like the Port Authority station on the Eighth Avenue line.

herenthere July 18, 2009 - 1:13 pm

I guess there wasn’t too much room on either sides of the stations since they were building it so shallow with cut and cover…although nowadays we have to live with the horrible scratching noise from trains passing through the extremely curved tracks at downtown 6 stations.

Walking on Pins and Needles - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com July 16, 2009 - 11:25 am

[…] the tangled mess inside the Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette station will eventually become. [2nd Ave […]

Marc Shepherd July 16, 2009 - 11:46 am

Question: once this improvement is finished, and there is access to the Uptown 6 from entrances south of Houston in Soho, would it be fair and reasonable to close Spring Street Station?

There are station pairs in the system closer together than Spring and Bleecker, and I haven’t heard any rumblings about closing them. It seems to me highly unlikely that the MTA would entertain it.

petey July 16, 2009 - 11:48 am

“This bastion of liberal activism”

sorry, can’t let this go. the last thing the tenants of that building are, is liberals. in the current political environment, when ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ are confounded by rightwing mediamongers whose remit is to blur all distinctions to the left of genghis khan, it’s important to preserve an old-fashioned respect for precision.

Frank July 16, 2009 - 2:14 pm

I will never transfer at Bleecker-Lafayette I will Use the E train to the get the 6 train

Don Anon July 17, 2009 - 9:56 pm

The “stunning” thing about the brick lining of the IRT tunnel is how remarkably good it looks for something that’s 105 years old. It doesn’t appear to be corroding at all. The Curbed pictures are misleading, because they show parts of the tunnel after brick has been jackhammered away by the project. The construction requires removing part of the old tunnel wall to allow expansion of the uptown 6 line platform.

Chicken Underwear July 18, 2009 - 9:45 pm

This is a complete waist of money. They could have saved millions by making a free transfer like between the F at Lexington to the N/R/W at 59th St. Millions….

Andrew July 18, 2009 - 10:08 pm

How many people use that out-of-system transfer?

And how much fare revenue is lost through free return trips that the MetroCard system can’t tell apart from actual transfers? There’s a reason there are only two out-of-system transfers in the system (and one is being replaced by an enclosed transfer).

Chicken Underwear July 18, 2009 - 10:50 pm

Could the free ride home cost the MTA as much as building a tunnel?

Andrew July 19, 2009 - 8:44 am

No clue – my question (how much fare revenue…) wasn’t rhetorical. But in an area with lots of shopping, I’m sure the revenue loss would be substantial. And it would be ongoing, year after year after year.

And don’t forget the other benefits that come out of building an enclosed transfer – it makes for a much easier connection (especially for infrequent users, who may not even know where to go if they have to go outside), it’s weatherproof, the entire complex will have ADA, etc.). And Bleecker badly needed a rehab of its own (although Broadway-Lafayette was done in the 90’s).

anonymouse July 20, 2009 - 11:49 am

I wonder, will they ever build a connection to Prince Street on the Broadway line? I believe there’s an abandoned mezzanine on the far side of Broadway as well, and the connecting passageways wouldn’t be that long, given the Prince Street station extends mostly northward from Prince. It would be a handy transfer to have, although maybe less important than other transfers that they’re considering building.

Jeff August 3, 2009 - 1:28 am

Yes but Union Sq is only two stations away and you can transfer to the NQRW there. It would be nice to have but I dont think it should be a priority

Nathanael August 24, 2009 - 7:40 am

I wonder why this requires FIVE elevators?

OK, looking at it, it only requires three. Two are for redundancy, so that any one elevator, or two opposite-corner elevators, can be out and the platform-mezzannine-platform transfers will continue to work, and so that there’s direct platform-platform transfer with only one elevator.

The elevator to the surface remains a single point of failure however. It’s unfortunate that the four elevators can’t just extend to the surface, but I suppose closing the street overhead and turning it into a subway station entrance would be a bit much. 😀

R. Caldwell October 20, 2009 - 1:20 am

This project is another example of how out of touch New Yorkers really are. This Project was and is not needed. The project is another political “feelgood” project pushed by the local city counsilperson, at that point in time(name not mentioned), to gain points to move up to higher office (now a state legislator). This project was initially projected to cost 50 million dollars. A New York Times story reported that it will benifit all of 11,000 transit riders a day. At the present projected cost of 130 million, the costs out weigh the benifits. All those escalators and elevators are required under the people with disabilities laws. At the rate this city is going there will be very few sinior citizens left here to take advantage of these accomodations. While they are doing this construction, the MTA is destroying all of the small businesses who are struggeling to survive a down turn in the economy. These small businesses are what used to be called the “backbone” of New York. There is no reduction in rent for these businesses or any way for them to claim damages against the MTA for the loss of business. They have been deserted and left to just take the hit. No wonder Manhattan is becoming an open air shopping mall with Starbucks and Bank of America on every cornor! Wake up people!!!

Tim February 8, 2010 - 4:58 pm

Actually the biggest benefit to system riders will be increased access to the LES and Brooklyn to the East Side.

PErsonally, I know at least 5 BK residents who’ll be able to change their commute as a result of this trip.

The BDFV trains all run to the LES and on from there, and Bleeker is the first spot that one can get on the IRT from these trains if coming form the southeast.

This is one project that needed to happen. Besides, bleeker is a damn near decrepit station that needed fixing anyway.

A look at the Bleecker St. renovations :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 8, 2010 - 5:56 pm

[…] and the entire station will be made ADA-compliant. In 2009, as the project got off the ground, I went in depth on the design of the renovated station. These renovations were a long time […]

Peace Pentagon at 339 Lafayette for Sale - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle March 3, 2010 - 6:34 am

[…] estate listing – “the building has significant structural issues.”  Indeed, as the New York Times reported back in 2007, the Peace Pentagon is sinking, with only a measly […]

JB March 23, 2010 - 1:07 pm

I realize the expected finish date is Nov 2011, but does that mean the streets above the project will be closed the same duration??? I’m wondering how the businesses on Lafayette between Bleeker and Houston will stay in business.

lolo June 21, 2011 - 2:23 pm

why couldn’t the MTA provide a free transfer to go from the F to the 6 uptown like they do on 59th street?? This station is one of the ONLY ones in NY with this oddity. And it is inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of people everyday who come from Brooklyn on the B/D/F or M and have to figure out a way to get on the 4-5-6 uptown (usually through a walk on 14th to get the L). Forget about the tourists who are even more at a loss when they realize they have to pay twice to get on the 6 uptown. Great city.
What a bunch of MTA morons, when they could give a free transfer until they fix the problem and all people would have to do is walk 1/2 a block.
The MTA in all its brilliance. 10 years or more that this has been going on. Screw these idiots.

William M. September 9, 2011 - 12:21 pm

That’s because it would be unefficent to have people run outside ini the rain to transfer to another platform. People have put up with that for years, and that is the reason why this transfer is being built dummy.


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