In a few years, the stations along the Culver Viaduct will be fully renovated.
The Culver Viaduct — a pesky strip of the IND Culver Line that crosses the Gowanus Canal 90 feet above ground — is in very bad shape. The bridge is structurally unsound, and the stations are decrepit with paint peeling from leaky ceilings and windows boarded up. By 2013, the Culver Viaduct will be fully renovated, and with the completion of that project will come renovated stations and the potential for F express service. In the meantime, service changes and weekend cancellations make for uncertain travel via the F and G trains.
For this mile-long strip of above-ground track, the work is badly needed. Waterproofing has given way to waterlogged and stressed concrete, and this overhaul is the first major rehab since 1933 when the viaduct first opened. It is an old structure and surrounded by buildings, and the MTA knew it would not be an easy overhaul. Yet, many have embraced it. Residents in the area have long recognized how dangerous the viaduct had become and were happy to see the MTA begin work on it.
Happy, that is, until service changes came to rule the weekends. As The Post explained yesterday, the work on the viaduct will result in total weekend shutdowns with shuttle bus service in between Jay St. and Church Ave. for weekends in February, May and November. Brooklyn residents are not happy about this development. “People are going to totally freak out,” Laura Stryjewski said. “Taking the shuttle is a royal pain. This is terrible news.”
Others were even more critical. “They already put us through this six months ago,” Isabel Milenski said to The Post. “It’s like they’re not fixing the issue. The shuttle rides are grotesque. It’s going to be chaotic.”
Milenski’s comment and Stryjewski’s to a lesser extent are both patently absurd. Of course the MTA is fixing the issue; that is, after all, why the Viaduct, a 77-year-old structure, has to be closed for a few weekends during the course of construction. To claim otherwise is simply ignorant.
These comments, featured in a major daily newspaper, are designed to stir up some sort of populist outrage at the MTA. Look at those transit folks, canceling our service and making us take shuttle buses, suggests the tone of the article. I’ve harped on this point before, but it’s worth repeating: This is simply irresponsible journalism. Who cares with some man- or woman-on-the-street thinks about something about which they are largely ignorant? If The Post wants to make the MTA look bad, this hit-and-run journalism is exactly the way to do it. If the paper cared about informing its riders of the MTA’s efforts at restoring this stretch of its track, it could do so in a more newsworthy way.
In the end, though, these attitudes transcend the yellow journalism of The Post and get at a deeper problem with the way people treat transit in New York City. The people who complain about how dirty, dingy and unsafe the Viaduct is are the same folks who complain about shuttle buses and station closures when the MTA gets around to fixing things. These riders want everything, and they want it now. Simply put, they can’t have it. The Viaduct has to be closed because the MTA needs to do major structural repairs to it otherwise the station will remain a part of the city’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. Ever the demanding bunch, New Yorkers cannot have it both ways for once.