Home 7 Line Extension Photos: The latest from inside the 7 line extension

Photos: The latest from inside the 7 line extension

by Benjamin Kabak

A switch in time (or at least the 7 line extension). Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

I haven’t had a chance to sneak a peek at the 7 line extension work since last February when the MTA lead a press excursion into the work site. In the intervening 16 months though, work has moved forward at a steady clip, and the one-station extension of the 7 line to 34th St. and 11th Ave. is on target for revenue service by next June. Today, the MTA unveiled a new series of photos of the work, and with 12 months left, it’s looking more and more like a subway stop.

We can see that tunnel systems are in place and signals are awaiting incoming trains (though some signals remain wrapped in plastic, not yet ready for tests that should begin in December). Inside the station cavern, subway platforms are taking shape and so are the escalator banks. The switch cabinets in place too, and I believe this area will host the incline elevator that will bring passengers deep underground.

I’ve long been critical of the approach to this project. Losing the station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. is a mistake New York City will live to regret, and I’m skeptical that, even with provisioning in place for two side platforms there, we’ll live to see the 7 make that stop. Additionally, the train could continue south (or even west, if Mayor Bloomberg has his druthers), but for now, we get one stop. That said, that stop will be key in bringing people to one the underdeveloped areas of Manhattan, and growth will boom with a new subway stop.

After the jump, a slideshow of all of the MTA’s photos showing the latest progress at 34th St. and 11th Ave.

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Karm June 24, 2013 - 6:43 pm

I think 41st & 10th can happen if developers get behind it.

Peter June 24, 2013 - 7:26 pm

The largest apartment building in the city — almost 1,200 units — is currently under construction at the corner of 42nd and 11th: http://ny.curbed.com/tags/atelier-2

That high-rise joins the Silver Towers, MiMA and other huge housing developments on Far West 42nd Street, all of which would be within short walking distance of a station at 41/10. With all the residential growth in this area it’s baffling to me that there hasn’t been more outcry about the loss of this station. I do recall a half-hearted, 11th-hour campaign by some members of the real estate community after it was scrapped, but really, wouldn’t you think the developers — who plan these buildings very carefully — would have considered transit options from the beginning?

These new towers are all marketed as luxury residences, and studio apartments at MiMA are currently renting for about $4,000, so maybe most of the people who live in these buildings take cabs or car services everywhere they go and the location of the nearest subway is irrelevant to them. But the acquaintances I know in that area are not wealthy enough to be above riding the train, and I’m sure they’d all love to be closer to a station.

Larry Littlefield June 24, 2013 - 8:17 pm

Per Google Maps, it’s 0.6 miles and 12 minutes to the 8th Avenue Subway and Flushing Line. It’s a one-seat ride to a lot of places from there, and not a long one to most of Manhattan.

Not great but not terrible, and it’s a little exercise in the normal course of the day.

Then why build the SAS? Capacity.

AG June 24, 2013 - 8:19 pm

The problem was not enough of them (developers) wanted to pay for the station… only a few were willing to put up money… so it fell through. Most of them thought the city would come up with money it seemed.
As values go up – they will probably find the money then. It’s the same idea with the Midtown East re-zoning.

NYC Lifer June 25, 2013 - 4:41 pm

Peter – Please, please, please stop baiting and playing the ‘wealth’ game. Those aren’t apartments
for the ‘wealthy’ they are basic market rate apartments for Manhattan ($2,575 – $4,000)! I think you must have bought into the 99% whine and whistle. I live in the area – not wealthy – and would LOVE a 41st street station AND a station at 26th and 11th where the subway tunnel terminus is located…roughy 6,500 current commuting employees within one block of that corner! Again – people who’d pay to ride. BUT in the very vocal ‘don’t tax me’ cry of the recent years and yes – agree with you on developers who didn’t want to pony up, just take from the city – they could have each put $10 million in and had one of these, if not both stations built. We don’t need palaces under ground – we need a platform, escalator and fare booths. Seriously. It’s also a product of NYC’s utter lack of understanding of urban planning and land use. I sit here looking at millions of square feet of new office, retail and residential being built at the Javits, Hudson Yards, North Hudson Yards and Extell and Brookfield’s sites (all adjacent) and reflect on sitting in Lincoln Tunnel entrance traffic on 10th avenue for 2.5 hours last friday just to get to the ramp for the tunnel. The infrastructure is so flawed at that site and they are about to thrust tens of thousands of additional users there!!! Point is – Yes, build more stations NYCs largest point of growth for the next 10 years is 44th STreet south to 27th Street along 9th, 10th and 11th avenues…and they haven’t put any transit in place to supply that. But they won’t.

AG June 25, 2013 - 9:44 pm

I agree with most of everything you said… but why do you think many ppl will be driving to those sites? Talk of driving – I think congestion pricing is a better cure to get more transit projects.

John-2 June 24, 2013 - 9:59 pm

Residential developers probably didn’t see a reason to put up the added cash for the 41st Street station, because in the Manhattan housing market, they’re expecting to get buyers/renters who just by that act are willing to put up with the walk to/from Eighth Avenue, and you don’t have any other people you’d need to go to the area to make your building profitable. If the 10th Avenue station is going to be built with any sort of contribution from area property owners, it will probably have to come from commercial/retail development moving north from Hudson Yards, where the builders need to being people in from other parts of the city or elsewhere to make the property attractive.

AG June 24, 2013 - 10:02 pm

very good point…. but would zoning be an issue (meaning Hudson Yards development going that far north)?

John-2 June 24, 2013 - 11:47 pm

I think Hudson Yards will have to prove its viability in order to make the area just west of the Lincoln Tunnel portals viable. If developers see money being made in and around 34th and 11th, the area near the portals becomes more appealing … but only if there’s a subway stop right nearby, because no one wants to dodge the tunnel traffic heading west from the Eighth Avenue IND.

As for the side platforms, there actually is a little precedent here, as far as adding them and getting economic growth, though not a direct connection — Citicorp likely never builds it’s office tower at Court Square in Long Island City if it wasn’t the site of the 23rd Street-Ely Avenue IND station, which was added onto the line after the 53rd Street tunnel opened.

There was a mere 45 year gap between the new side platform station and the office building, but it was the first major step in LIC’s current revival, and the station worked for the company since it was only one stop away from the new Citicorp headquarters at 53rd and Lex. Given the value of Manhattan real estate, if Hudson Yard booms, hopefully the 7 train won’t have to wait until 2059 or so to get its 10th Avenue station.

AG June 25, 2013 - 12:04 am

Technically speaking… Hudson Yards is already “booming”. Coach, SAP, L’Oreal have already signed on (contracts – not just verbal) to move their offices there and no commercial buildings have even been built yet. The residential is a no-brainer.

NYC Lifer June 25, 2013 - 4:43 pm

Oh, they’ve already more than proven the 27th Street to 44th Street area is viable – there
are several thousand apartments under construction from 27 up to 30; a few thousand have come on line in the past year – fully leased, and the office tenants are just a year behind. It will be fully built out and leased within five to seven years at the max. This IS NYCs ONLY
buildable zone and they are at it full swing.

BruceNY June 25, 2013 - 6:46 pm

There is a very good precedent: The lower-level express platforms at 59th St. on the Lexington Avenue Line. Those were dug out & opened around 1960, decades after the line was built (Hard to believe the express used to run all the way from 42nd to 86th).
It may not be very pretty down there, but it’s certainly an important stop.

D.R. Graham June 24, 2013 - 10:24 pm

Which is the typical description of the real estate cronies in this city. All willing to cut corners wherever they can. Now this is the one time they will come to regret it. A 41st & 10th station would’ve added substantial value to the new developments and spurred additional opportunity for growth (more revenue). Sure a side platform station will be nice, but even they know an island platform station, with ADA access and one bank of elevators would have been much better than two of each set causing confusion for commuters especially visitors to the area.

Bolwerk June 24, 2013 - 11:16 pm

Maybe side platforms aren’t the ideal solution, but they hardly cause much confusion. The Lexington Avenue local has several, and people adjust to them.

Tower18 June 25, 2013 - 12:28 pm

Most stations in Manhattan also, not just a few. All of the local stations along 8th, 7th, 6th, Bway, and Lex have side platforms, with only a few technically having cross-unders, which are usually horrible options vs. crossing the street. Yeah it’s sometimes confusing, but everyone has been figuring that out (possibly cursing at the same time) for decades.

D in Bushwick June 24, 2013 - 11:11 pm

Or extend the L Train to the Meatpacking district and hang a right to form a two-line transfer terminals at Hudson Yards.
Two lines serving HudYar would serve its corporate owners even better and that’s all that really matters.

Hoosac June 25, 2013 - 8:20 am

Great photos. Whatever its shortcomings, the new line and station is impressive. But I couldn’t help thinking: What happens when it floods?

Benjamin Kabak June 25, 2013 - 8:32 am

How/why would it flood?

Jerrold June 25, 2013 - 12:30 pm

I assume he means if we get another Sandy, even worse this time, and 11th Ave. is close enough to the river to get flooded.

NYC Lifer June 25, 2013 - 4:46 pm

Because during Sandy – which was not even a category 1 hurricane when it hit sent 9 feet of water across the West Side Highway, Across 11th Avenue and across 10th avenue reaching mid-block to 9th avenue in the 20s. Get a real storm with winds of 110 mph, the surge we had in Sandy and then add heavy rain (there was very little rain with Sandy) and you get even greater water coverage. It was epic around here.

Benjamin Kabak June 25, 2013 - 4:49 pm

I didn’t fully explain my question. The current entrances for the 7 line extension are in Zones 5 and 6. It would be unlikely, but possible, for it to flood. They’ll have to harden the station, if they haven’t planned for that already, but it’s much more of a concern to address Lower Manhattan.

Bolwerk June 25, 2013 - 8:40 pm

I would guess some water is fairly normal all over the system. The question is whether it can be pumped out, and whether the system might be deluged with saltwater, which presents some of its own problems.

I would hope 7ext is engineered to avoid the saltwater issue, at least.

AG June 25, 2013 - 9:51 pm

A “real” storm? In any event – 110 mph winds are possible… in the “Great Blizzard” in the 1800’s there were gusts that high (which led to utilities being buried). As to Sandy – the reason the storm surge was so high was because of “special” conditions. There were two storms that merged together and came in at high tide with heavy moon pull. It was “biblical” or “perfect storm”. A “normal” category 1 at any other time wouldn’t have had such a high storm surge. That said – if NY gets Cat 1’s regularly then the Caribbean and the whole east coast of the US are in grave danger. There might not be any economy to worry about.

al June 28, 2013 - 12:15 pm

Enough with the ignorance. Its not just max wind speed. Its also the fetch (the size of the high speed wind field). Sandy came ashore as a 945 millibar storm. Hurricane Ike was a 950 millibar storm. Ike produced a 20+ft storm surge. Residents on the Bolivar Peninsula dismissed Ike as it approached as a Cat2 storm. They completely ignored the core pressure and were annihilated. Sandy was the same. A huge storm with a huge fetch that drove a storm large surge.

Sandy wasn’t the worst case scenario. The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island storm drove a 13 ft surge at the Battery during low tide. Due to 190 years of sea level rise, its a 14+ft storm surge if it came today. If it came at mean tide, it would be a 17+ft surge. A high tide arrival would make it a 20+ft flood. Flood mitigation plans need to consider a 22ft flood. Even then it would only be 300yr storm protection, and one that would likely be tested within its service lifetime.

johndmuller June 26, 2013 - 7:06 am

D in Bushwick‘s post about extending the L train to 11th and turning it uptown to 34th St. to meet the 7, presumably stopping at least at 23rd, suggests the idea of running it much further up the west side, to the Columbus Circle/Lincoln Center area, or Columbia, or even to 125th St., perhaps to meet or join the 125th St. branch of the 2nd Ave. Subway. I wonder if the two lines could be made to share the stretch of track under 11th Ave. below 42nd St., with the 7 line perhaps going on beyond 23rd St. to NJ as in Mayor Bloomberg’s plan.

This won’t be happening anytime soon, but now would be a good time to think about it so that issues such as where to put the infill station between Times Sq. and 34th St. can be better considered and that any relevant options are kept open instead of being prematurely foreclosed.

Of course, the L train is IND/BMT size and the 7 train is IRT size. So if you wanted to run both lines on the same tracks, how big a problem is this? As far as I know, the track gauge is the same, but the IRT coaches are notably smaller, in width for sure, in length at least in most cases, and maybe even in height. I suppose there are differences in curve radii specs, and weight may also be a factor with the trackwork. What about the 3rd rail pickup? I believe the TA moves stuff around between lines somehow, so unless they use some specialized motive power, it should be OK.

One assumption is that the new 11th Ave. tunnels have a large enough cross section to handle the BMT/IND height and width and that the 34th St. station is, or could be made to be, long enough to hold a presumably longer L train. Otherwise I think the main problem is the width, and how to deal with the imfamous gap, when a narrower IRT car is in the station. 34th St. may be the perfect spot to develop some super-flexible platform edge barrier/doors complete with adjustable platform edges to deal with the gaps.

I think that I’ve read that the Queens section of the 7 line was built to BMT/IND specs, at least the part beyond Queensboro Plaza, so it may not even be entirely impossible to convert the whole 7 line to BMT/IND.

Bolwerk June 26, 2013 - 9:40 am

Not sure I entirely agree with the conclusions presented, but here (“Update 1/4/2007”) is a background about the issues involved. Seems impractical.

Ben June 26, 2013 - 6:02 pm

It also seems to me that’s there’s little value in extending the L much further north than 42nd St. I could see pushing it as far up as 72nd St, but after that the UWS has more than enough service. One proposal I saw once extended the L up 10th Ave (not 11th) to interchange with the 1/2/3 at 72nd St and then across under Central Park via 72nd St and on into Queens, filling in the gap in northern . That seemed like an intriguing idea to me, if highly ambitious.

Ben June 26, 2013 - 6:03 pm

Sorry, should say “northern Jackson Heights and on to LGA”.

Ron Aryel September 7, 2013 - 1:20 am

What Benjamin and a lot of other people miss is that the Javits Convention Center has merited a subway stop for a long time. Javits is one of the most subscribed convention centers in the US, even if it’s far from the biggest, and it lacked rail service. The 7 extension’s earliest benefit will not be developing real estate (that is the third benefit, chronologically); it will be the easy movement of employees and conventioneers to Javits. The second benefit will be to serve residential towers that are already open within blocks of the new station. The side of fries that goes with the entrĂ©e is direct access (within a block) to the High Line Park, and of course, bringing the Hudson River waterfront within much shorter walking distance to the subway. I agree that the 10th Av station was important, and I signed the petition that was circulated to support it. It may ultimately be built.


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