Home Fulton Street Dey St. Passageway to remain shuttered for now

Dey St. Passageway to remain shuttered for now

by Benjamin Kabak

Renderings for the Dey St. Passageway do not include the throngs of homeless people the MTA fears may camp out there.

In two years or so, the MTA should be ready to open the Fulton Street Transit Center, and already, at parts, the construction is looking a little tidier. The oculus is taking shape above the main building, and the underground work is progressing apace. There is, however, a rub. According to the Daily News, the Dey St. Passageway may remain shuttered long past the Transit Center’s opening.

Pete Donohue has the story. As the Dey St. headhouse gears up for a looming opening, the concourse between the R and the rest of the Fulton St. station could remain closed for years. Writes Donohue:

For years, Metropolitan Transportation Authority construction and planning schedules have pegged November 2012 as the time for the opening of a new underground connection between the Fulton Center subway complex at Broadway in lower Manhattan and the Cortlandt St. station on the eastern edge of the World Trade Center site…

Yet transit officials now say they plan to keep the Dey St. Concourse padlocked — for several years. The official reason: Few riders will make use of the free transfer. The demand, officials say, will come when the new office towers being built at Ground Zero are completed and occupied, and the Port Authority finishes its permanent — and extravagant — PATH hub. That’s will be in 2015. Maybe. “The small number of people we believe would use the transfer . . . does not justify the expense of opening, maintaining and policing the passage,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg explained.

Incredibly, the MTA says an analysis concluded that if the tunnel were to open as initially planned, just five people an hour would want to use the walkway and make a free transfer between the R train at Cortlandt. St. and the many lines running through Fulton Center. So, then, who will come? The homeless — at least that’s the MTA’s fear. The concern is that the brand-spanking-new concourse might become an encampment for the poor, unmoored souls you see huddled in doorways in the city or standing outside soup kitchens.

We’ve seen this move before played out throughout the system. Sometimes, the problems involve disputes between the MTA and the private entities contracted to open or maintain entrances. Sometimes, the problems focus around maintenance work that, for some reason or another, just isn’t completed in a timely fashion. Sometimes, the problems center around security concerns that are seemingly forgotten to time.

For now, though, as Donohue writes, the MTA will have a passageway to nowhere on its hands. It’s a $200 million provision for the future. Try telling that to all the businesses forced out of their shops above ground as this pristine concourse sits unused for the next three or four years.

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Marc Shepherd October 1, 2012 - 10:22 am

If the traffic analysis were true (just five people per hour), I guess the decision to wait would be justified. Having lived and worked in that area for many years, that estimate seems awfully low. Obviously it’s an embarrassment to spend $200 million building a passageway they now feel they can’t use for another three years.

Bolwerk October 1, 2012 - 2:08 pm

It’s never justified. If it’s there, make use of it. Whatever policing is necessary can be done on the cheap with closed-circuit cameras and the local troopscops who occupy downtown.

Anyway, 5 people/hour seems absurd. That said, it doesn’t seem like this was worth the trouble to build either either way, especially given that most of those lines have transfers to the R elsewhere.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 9:12 pm

This is all the result of making this an “outside the faregate” transfer, which I thought was a bad idea from day one. Make it an “inside the faregate” transfer, and suddenly the policing problem seems manageable.


Clarke October 1, 2012 - 8:55 pm

If it isn’t going to be used fully (or fully useful), then I don’t see anything wrong with keeping it closed. Spending $200 million on it and keeping it shut for a few years actually does make sense, because that $200m it cost now could or would be much larger in 3 or 4 years when it is necessary…think ESA tunnel at 63rd Street built 40+ years before it is used. Today, who knows what it would cost to build from scratch.

bgriff October 1, 2012 - 10:38 am

Would clearly have been nice if this point had been considered sometime before now. I just saw an ad on a subway train this weekend trumpeting how the Dey St. passageway would be opening “later this summer.”

David Brown October 1, 2012 - 10:43 am

I guess the problems of the Gimbels Passageway and Broadway-Lafayette are taken to the Nth Degree. Gimbels was too dangerous (So they don’t want a similiar passage until it is needed), and the MTA figured it would be cheaper to build the passageway NOW rather than rebuild later (Sort of like the Uptown 6 Train Connection)

TP October 1, 2012 - 12:09 pm

The Gimbels passageway was outside of fare control and (I believe?) not even owned/controlled by the MTA, right? Isn’t that the huge key difference here? I don’t see how it’d be hard for the MTA to police a passage that’s within fare control. Having to buy a swipe to enter seems to reduce the threat of homeless encampments a bit.

Also, there are MTA passages outside of fare control that aren’t dangerous — East Broadway on the F has a huge one that for some reason homeless people don’t seem to take over?

Would the Dey Street passageway be heated in any way? Is that part of the perceived draw?

R. Graham October 1, 2012 - 10:45 am

You know I honestly feel this analysis to be completely shortsighted. As winter approaches I can definitely confirm that more people would use the concourse than 5 an hour even if not transferring and just to walk to an office on Broadway or East of Broadway. Not to mention how small the streets are with the loads of crowds walking them some people would see an advantage to remaining underground as opposed to dodging crowds, cars and stopping at street lights. In terms of weather…cold, rain and snow are just a few justifications.

If reasonably climate controlled, it would be a popular option during the dog days of summer.

Joseph Steindam October 1, 2012 - 11:59 am

Agreed, not only are the streets crowded above ground, the 9/11 memorial is already open. Surely that’s bringing an increase in traffic to the stations around there. The passageway should be able to attract way more usage than 5 people per hour. I don’t buy the MTA’s estimates.

Marc October 1, 2012 - 11:29 pm

I would think that, if there is a problem with opening the passageway now, it would be too many passengers from the Fulton Street stations would use the passageway to get to the memorial, 7 WTC, PATH, or something else west of Broadway, especially in the cold or rain, and overwhelm the few narrow street exits to the east side of Church Street from the uptown Cortlandt platform. When the PATH terminal, 4 WTC, and the shops/mall at 3 WTC open, there will be more ways to exit the station west of Church.

Bolwerk October 1, 2012 - 2:31 pm

Good point. I actually really wonder about their modeling sometimes. They often seem to make strange assumptions like the one you mention. Here the odd one is something like Every single (at least work) day is the same.” As if accounting for the fact that we have pretty wild temperature differences across seasons is a waste. (Seriously: 5 people/hour sounds like at least the number of bumbling tourists who would use it when they should go somewhere else.)

Remember the Staten Island North Shore scheme they released? They seemed to make all kinds of strange assumptions, like the bus and train would be equally fast/reliable, the busway for some reason was vastly cheaper to build, the ridership would be the same, etc..

Hank October 1, 2012 - 11:43 am

I thought Giulani killed all the homeless…
In all seriousnes, now hard is it to police this area? For an MTA cop to stroll through a couple of times a day can’t be that onerous.

lawhawk October 1, 2012 - 12:15 pm

I work adjacent to the Fulton Center/Dey street area, and there’s certainly plenty of foot traffic between Broadway and Church that might be destined for subway transiting to the old N/R station on Church. The Dey connector was supposed to make those transfers easier, and better integrate the system.

Didn’t the MTA identify how many people would use the system once the connector was in place (and that’s after recognizing the delays in building at the WTC complex). 1WTC is expected to open late 2013 and 4WTC is to open in 2014. The memorial is already open and exceeded projected visitors by a wide margin. Opening the connector would make tremendous sense and get people accustomed to the free in-system transfer and allow someone from the N/R to switch over to the other Fulton Center lines. Delaying this only reduces the purpose and intent of the Fulton Center project.

It should be opened in a timely fashion and I have to wonder if the 5 persons per hour is arrived at because of the lack of foot traffic during the overnight hours when few are around. And if that’s the case, then why not shutter the corridor in the overnight to prevent the homeless from congregating there.

Jerrold October 1, 2012 - 12:43 pm

“Few riders will make use of the free transfer.”

I thought that it was going to be an out-of-system transfer.

ALSO, what about the part of the project that was not mentioned here, the passageway between the E train terminal and the Cortlandt St. R station?

Boerumhillscott October 1, 2012 - 1:19 pm

Correct, the Dey passage is outside of fare control.
http://www.mta.info/mta/reales.....se_RFP.pdf page 6 has a diagram.

Before the WTC transite center opens, there will be no free way to exit the passage from the West end.

I still think that people with would use it to avoid a block above ground walk when entering or exiting the subway, but given extra stairs required for many journeys, I’m not sure how many.

On a side note, I don’t think any businesses were closed for the passage itself.

Bolwerk October 1, 2012 - 2:38 pm

Wonder if there was room to shoehorn businesses into the passageway? That’s a good way to (a) draw some traffic and (b) have some eyes around to stop crime.

Boerumhillscott October 1, 2012 - 2:50 pm

The passage is 29 feet wide, so not a lot of space given the epected crowds when the WTC transit center/mall opens.

The original plan was for 40 feet wide.

Bolwerk October 1, 2012 - 6:46 pm

Well, presumably such retail would not take up the passage’s footprint. It would have been more expensive to build, obviously, but the return may have been greater too.

Justin Samuels October 1, 2012 - 3:02 pm

According to the MTA Capital Program that is still happening, the free transfer between the E and the R. I guess that will open up when they finish the whole project, in 2014. The E and the R should have been connected years ago with a free transfer.

Boerumhillscott October 1, 2012 - 3:54 pm

I wonder how that connection will work?
I am guessing it will be from the downtown R platform only.

Justin Samuels October 1, 2012 - 4:27 pm

I think you’re right, as you can go under the R line already to transfer to the uptown platform/ Plus the E station and the downtown platform have a passageway that appears to be walled off, so I think the connector is already built.

Jerrold October 1, 2012 - 5:13 pm

But are you sure that it will be a FREE transfer?
At the WTC terminal station of the E train, you have to go outside the fare zone just to get to that boarded-up spot that apparently will be the entrance to the passageway to the R train.

David October 1, 2012 - 1:29 pm

This is a little off-topic, but while we’re talking about passageways, I would sure love to see the 14th Street passageway between 7th and 8th Avenue reopened.

Jason October 1, 2012 - 2:43 pm

Me too. Any idea why they closed it?

Tower18 October 1, 2012 - 3:34 pm

I don’t believe it’s possible. I feel like I remember reading somewhere that the possibility of bringing this back died with the renovation of 14th St/8th ave some years back. The passageway dead-ends at 8th avenue above the ramp down to the L. In other words, if one were to walk from 7th avenue to 8th avenue, once they reached 8th avenue, they’d step off the edge and fall down to the L platform (not really, but they’d fall a good 20 feet).

Someone October 2, 2012 - 6:39 am

Well, they could build a stairway to the street level in that case.

Bolwerk October 2, 2012 - 3:02 pm

Quoth the ADA: thou shalt not build stairways without providing an elevator or ramp.

Kai B October 2, 2012 - 5:57 pm

Stairs would be relatively easy. When you take the center stairway (added after the ramp was cut off), you can see parts of the ramp to the side of the wall.

Extending a half-width ramp to the mezzanine could be done as well, but it would probably be too steep for ADA purposes since there’s an elevator in the way of a gradual ramp.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 9:15 pm

Elevators would be easy (though expensive) — elevators take up practically no space at all!

kvnbklyn October 1, 2012 - 2:20 pm

“Try telling that to all the businesses forced out of their shops above ground as this pristine concourse sits unused for the next three or four years.”

The concourse is under Dey Street and did not require forcing out any businesses to get built. The businesses were forced out to build the head house and the main transit center building only.

kvnbklyn October 1, 2012 - 2:24 pm

I fail to see the big deal. The connector was designed to connect to the new underground WTC mall which is now delayed. It makes perfect sense to keep it closed until then particularly since the operating costs will exceed the useful benefits. Smart move on the part of the MTA.

John-2 October 1, 2012 - 3:36 pm

Well, now that the M train has been using Christie Street connection between Essex and B’way-Lafayette for a couple of years, the MTA has to have some sort of connection they built but don’t use.

AlexB October 1, 2012 - 6:57 pm

I highly doubt their prediction of 5 people/hour. Moreover, to build this and then not use it is simply offensive.

Phantom October 1, 2012 - 9:06 pm

Holy cow. They had been advertising this opening.

From Broadway, you can see the sign showing the lines the entrance is supposed to lead to.

Eric F October 2, 2012 - 9:10 am

Apart from the passageway, the Dey Street headhouse had a hard open date of July, which has been revised to “Fall”, which I guess means never once again.

Someone October 1, 2012 - 10:41 pm

What is happening?

Eric October 1, 2012 - 11:52 pm

I think the MTA was smart with this. If it is unpaid, why let it turn into an unpaid motel for the homeless. Once the project is completed, then open it up. I think the mall will probably open sometime in 2014 and then go from there. We waited this long, why not do this right and not create an eyesore that is hard to fix. In addition, I think E to R Passageway is already there, just walled off.

Bolwerk October 2, 2012 - 9:43 am

Really, how many underutilized parts of the subway are “motels” for the homeless? This is akin to the delusion that public transit causes crime or, if we don’t keep throwing more and more money at police in the face of dropping crime, crime will go back up.

Those are convenient narratives for NIMBYs, car manufacturers, and police unions, but not based on reality.

Eric October 2, 2012 - 11:14 am

Yes, but this passageway is outside of fare control. I agree that they could open this tomorrow and it would probably be fine. Look at the PATH passageway at 34th Street, but why not wait. When the time comes when everything is done, then open it.

Eric F October 2, 2012 - 9:09 am

It would be nice to at least give the public a chance to see it perhaps over a weekend. We did spend $200 million on it after all.

Anthony October 2, 2012 - 10:46 am

Living in the Brooklyn Heights area for 3 years, while 5/hour might be absurdly low, it’s reasonable not to expect many people to use the transfer, for a few reasons:

a)you can already transfer from the R to the 2/3/4/5 at City Hall, literally 1 stop away from Fulton St. on the 4/5 and 2 stops away on the 2/3. The same is true for the transfer to the A/C at Metrotech.

b)Between Brooklyn Heights and Union square, the 4/5/6 and R run a short block away from each other with a transfer at each diversion point (City Hall and Union Square) making another transfer between them redundant.

The only people I can imagine making regular use of this transfer are people either Whitehall St or Cortlandt St. on the R a destination on the 2/3/A/C but before 42nd Street. Any other trips are redundant due to proximity between stations or transfers that already exist.

In light of that I don’t think building the passage was a good idea in the first place and it’s unlikely that it’ll get enough use to justify the cost of building it or policing it. And if tons of homeless people camp out there, there will be even less incentive to use it.

Anthony October 2, 2012 - 10:48 am

Typo fix:
**The only people I can imagine making regular use of this transfer are people either (going to/coming from) Whitehall St or Cortlandt St. on the R and (coming from/going to) a destination on the 2/3/A/C but before 42nd Street. Any other trips are redundant due to proximity between stations or transfers that already exist.

Anthony October 2, 2012 - 10:51 am

**Borough Hall not City Hall where it’s mentioned

Eric October 2, 2012 - 11:16 am

Plus this transfer requires that you go outside of fare control to use it. It just does not make sense to open it without the World Trade Center site finished. This is NOT A FREE TRANSFER. It is simply a tunnel between Cortlandt Street R and Fulton Center. Lets leave it closed until it goes somewhere.

Alon Levy October 2, 2012 - 10:59 am

Yeah, things get delayed in New York. In 2007, SAS was supposed to open about now. Today, it’s supposed to open in about 2017. It’s perpetually five years away. Why not?

BoerumBum October 2, 2012 - 1:45 pm

It’s short enough to feel like it’s on the way, but long enough to manage people’s expectations.

I wish they’d extend the Nassau line to Governor’s Island & Red Hook. It should only take about 5 years…

Nyland8 October 8, 2012 - 11:18 am

They should just send the T train there. Keep the TBMs in the ground all the way to Hanover Place and beyond. Then run the 2nd Ave. subway onto a 2nd Ave. Brooklyn elevated. Jump out of the ground at Lorraine & Henry in Red Hook to cross the Gowanus, then turn SSW.

That entire Brooklyn waterfront could benefit from development.

JJJ October 2, 2012 - 2:09 pm

Why not just give it limited hours? Install a gate, have it be open from 7am-7pm.

BoerumBum October 2, 2012 - 3:07 pm

That’s not without precident in the neighborhood. For example, the business hour only passageway between the Wall St. 4/5 and the Broad St. J/Z, which is also outside of fare control.

Daily News: On the Transit Center to nowhere :: Second Ave. Sagas October 2, 2012 - 4:00 pm

[…] yesterday’s revelation that the Dey St. Passageway won’t open for a few years, the Daily News took the space to remind its riders of the folly of the Fulton St. Transit Center. […]

Matthias October 3, 2012 - 11:32 am

Take the cops babysitting the bull and put them in the passageway.

If the passageway had not been narrowed to “save” money, retail could have been included that would not only generate revenue but increase safety.

Phantom October 4, 2012 - 11:00 am

They’ve removed the fence around the new subway entrance on the west side of Broadway and Dey Streets. One of construction guys says that the new entrance will be open this Monday.

Andrew P. October 6, 2012 - 12:55 am

So… why not just open it during peak hours until the WTC Transportation Hub is completed? That is exactly how the MTA operates the underground passageway between the downtown R platform and One Liberty Plaza (a good chunk of that passageway is outside of fare control).

Richard Dey April 10, 2014 - 2:43 pm

In Boston, they’ve turned a 19th-century gaol into a hi-tech hotel — maintaining bars and handcuffs. The Dey Street Concourse could make money charging $200-$500 a night for 7X4-foot cardboards, perhaps some complimentary watch caps, ripped I-L-NY T-shirts, some swept-up cigarette butts, whatever; we could serve paper-cup cocktails, canapes and petite-4s in sardine cans, and offer tourists a taste of the NYC so many Knicks experience night after night. NYC needs to turn its liabilities into assets — you know, like the WTC bombings. An unpredictable hole can make a predictable profit. BTW, whatever happened to the plan for metered park benches and parking-meter potties? NYC is for making money.


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