Home 7 Line Extension In which I dash hopes for a 7 line station at 41st St. and 10th Ave.

In which I dash hopes for a 7 line station at 41st St. and 10th Ave.

by Benjamin Kabak
The 7 line extension will open in September, but the station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. remains lost to time.

The 7 line extension station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. remains lost to time.

Every few months, the long, lost 7 line station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. makes an appearance in the news, and we can all hope for a few minutes that everyone will come to their senses. Today, this station — a victim of a game of political chicken between the MTA and New York City that saw everyone else lose over a matter of a few hundred million dollars — made waves when NYC’s Economic Development Corporation released an RFP for the Covenant House at 41st St. and 10th Ave. With scenic views of the Port Authority Bus Terminal ramps, this spot is primed for development, and it would seem to be an ideal vehicle through which a second stop for the 7 line extension could arrive. Don’t get your hopes up.

The story broke first on Curbed on Wednesday afternoon. Buried in the RFP for the site (pdf) is a brief reference to the MTA and its work assessing the area around 41st St. and 10th Ave. As you may recall, the 7 line extension originally included two stations, but when costs climbed, the city refused to cover the overruns. Since the MTA wasn’t going to spend a dollar more than it needed to of its own scarce capital money on a project entirely funded by the city and the city didn’t need to spur development in a neighborhood already being developed, the station was axed from the extension. Over the years, a few half-hearted, 11th-hour attempts by, variously, the real estate industry and Sen. Chuck Schumer went nowhere, and the extension opened last year with just one stop.

The MTA didn’t foreclose on the idea of a station there and left provisioning in place for a station with two side-platforms at this spot in Hell’s Kitchen. Now, we see that the agency, at a low level, is doing its diligence with regards to this station. Here’s what the RFP says:

The MTA is in the process of preparing the conceptual design study of the Tenth Avenue Station for the No. 7 Train Extension. The goal of the study is to arrive at a conceptual design of the station facilities and infrastructure on the Project Site to a level of specificity that will assist in determining the dimensions of any required MTA Easements, volumes of space, impositions or encumbrances. At the time that the study is complete, the Developer will be expected to work with the MTA to finalize the MTA Easements and adjust its Proposal accordingly. The Developer is encouraged to design and incorporate the MTA Easements so that the MTA Easements appear uniform with the overall Project. The Contracts of Sale will require that, as a Condition to Closing, the Developer shall have coordinated with the MTA, and shall have accepted and accommodated within its site plan the MTA Easements as set forth in the abovementioned conceptual design study.

That paragraph is dense with legalese and real estate-ese, but ultimately and unfortunately, it urges us not to hold our breaths expecting a station at 10th Ave. any time soon. While the MTA may be preparing a conception design study, the purpose of this study is simply to ensure the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed with regards to the Covenant House spot. The easements are future considerations. Should the MTA eventually decide to build the station, whatever development grows at this spot would have to support the necessary land grab and construction work without sacrificing the integrity of the mixed-use development that will soon rise there. It’s nothing more than a hedge against future uncertainty and not a true conceptual design that will see the light of day.

The reality is that, despite Dan Doctoroff’s come-to-Jesus moment seven years too late, we missed the best chance we had of seeing a stop at 10th Ave. Instead of a $500 million project, a new station built around an active subway line is likely to cost upwards of $800 million, and the MTA has no plans to fund this station. It’s not a part of the 2015-2019 capital plan, and based on the agency’s short- and long-term needs, it’s not likely to be a part of the 2020-2024 plan unless someone else fronts the dough.

So ultimately, the MTA and NYCEDC are doing what they have to do to preserve the slight hope that someone will fund a station in the future. Whoever builds something at 41st will have to plan for some work underneath the building that’s unlikely to begin any time soon, and that’s all this RFP is about. As frustrating as it is, the 7 line stop at 41st St. and 10th Ave. is no closer to reality today than it was a week, a month or a year ago.

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Village Idiot January 28, 2016 - 1:25 am

Any chance there could be a public-private partnership for this, or the midtown SAS phase, as so many businesses and real estate interests would benefit from the proximity to the train?

mister January 28, 2016 - 2:54 am

As you correctly point out, it’s not going to happen with MTA money.

Maybe, just maybe, if private development could be incentivized to build the vertical access/circulation to the station, it could happen at some point in the future. I think that the only way we’ll see the 10th ave station ever happen is if we get private money to get it done.

Panthers January 28, 2016 - 3:54 pm

Two words – Crowd Funding.

pete January 28, 2016 - 3:05 am

A moving sidewalk under 42nd street from eighth avenue with an exit at 9th avenue would be more useful than a subway stop that will just slow down running times of the 7. There is also a bit of “nothing there” at 41 and 10th avenue due to PABT ramps and Lincoln tunnel. This station was rightfully not built, it is too close to 8th avenue 42. 1 NYC avenue is 3 streets length apart wise so 10th avenue is only “6 blocks” away from 8th avenue station. 34/11th avenue is 9 blocks away from 8th avenye, and “10 blocks” is the typical local station separation distance in the NYC subway, so at just 6 blocks away, it doesn’t make sense.

Ryan January 28, 2016 - 7:44 am

I’m struggling to understand your point here, as you seem to be conflating arguments.

Hudson Yards is 9 blocks from Penn Station but as the 7 doesn’t go there that’s entirely irrelevant information for the purposes of stop spacing, and if you’re arguing that 10 blocks should be the minimum distance between ANY two subway stops in Midtown then that’s an entire trunk line or two you’d need to abolish.

Otherwise, it’s actually 19 blocks between Times Square and Hudson Yards and the spacing of 10 Av station would fall right there in the middle, 9 blocks from Times Square and 10 from Hudson Yards. You couldn’t really ask for better spacing than that.

There’s plenty of reasons NOT to build a station there of course, and plenty of better infill station locations if we somehow come up with the money for one, so there’s no need to invent arguments around stop spacing between two lines serving traffic heading in completely different directions. (I’m not sure about the grading of the tunnel or if there’s any room to adjust it, but if there’s any potential for it at all then dropping down platforms at 2 Av for the immediate access to UNHQ and the potential future access to a direct 2 Av subway transfer is far more important than access to the other side of the PABT.)

Village Idiot January 28, 2016 - 10:08 am

Agreed Ryan. I think there are lots of better ways to spend the MTA’s money than building this station, but as Ben has repeatedly pointed out, it was shortsighted not to make the investments while the shovels were already in the ground.

The argument about blocks is pretty ridiculous though. We’re not really talking about 6 blocks versus 9 or 10. The people inside the elbow of the line’s curve, to the south, have plenty of subway access for sure. It’s the neighborhood to the north and west. From 8th Ave to the river options are sparse. The stop at 10th Ave. would help people who might otherwise be walking 15-20 blocks to 50th Street or the Port Authority.

That said, connecting the 7 to the L, as has been thrown about, could be a real game changer. And of course just getting the SAS done or TriboroRX would be even more preferable.

Streater January 28, 2016 - 3:27 am

I’ve taken a ride a few times already on the 7 between Times Square and Hudson yards and the train is slow enough… no station needed… just walk a block if you have to, seriously. The 7 doesn’t need any additional riders anyway because it’s going to get packed.

The thing to consider too is anyone that lives there that wants to take the subway is going to want a one seat ride, but if you take the 7 you’re most likely going to want to transfer… so not worth the bang for the buck… again, walk a block.

My top priority that no one has talked about: extend the 6 AVE LINE from SECOND AVE to Brooklyn and on to UTICA AVE like it was supposed to be. You will do 2 things: Add more Williamsburg capacity while adding a line to a much deserved area of Brooklyn.

OR the best bang for your buck… reconstruct the G go thru Manhattan and turn it into a circle line… BOOM… you now have the most popular line in the city PLUS no new stations so it won’t cost that much. WTF doesn’t NYC have a circle line anyway?????????????????

Eric January 28, 2016 - 7:13 am

Re Utica:
– Williamsburg etc have plenty of spare capacity. If the L is full you can always take the J/M/Z or G which have plenty of space. So this plan does not really help with capacity
– The 6th Avenue line already has 4 services and adding a fifth would cause schedule difficulties
– Utica south of Eastern Parkway, connecting to the 3/4, is a great project because it covers areas with no subway currently in walking distance. Plus, it can be elevated and thus much cheaper. Utica north of Eastern Parkway covers areas that already have nearby subways.

Re the G:
– There is no advantage to a circle line. Most US cities don’t have one. Detroit has one that’s a miserable failure.
– The G would be much more successful if it went to Manhattan. Like you say, this would require a short new tunnel in the Queens Plaza area.

Tower18 January 29, 2016 - 1:30 pm

I believe London and Paris both had “circle” lines in the past which were broken into two (Paris) or changed to not be a true endless circle (London) due to reliability problems.

Kurt May 11, 2020 - 6:22 pm

Detroit has single line people mover system train, That is not good example,

Nick Ober January 28, 2016 - 7:37 am

Yeah, the slow speed of the 7 between TSQ and Hudson Yards surprised me. Not really sure why it runs so slowly given the fact that the curve seems plenty wide.

Toddster January 28, 2016 - 11:39 am

Are you really arguing not to build a station because people will use it? We should probably just shut down 42-Grand Central on the 4,5,6. All those people getting on just really crowd the train and slow it down.

And concerning a one seat ride, its not walking a block. It’s walking two long blocks to get to the 8th Avenue lines. Thought unless you need the A,C,E, to get your one seat ride, you’d most likely have to walk another Avenue to get to the true Times Square complex. So that’s a three Avenue walk, assuming you live at the intersection of 10th and 41st. What about someone coming from say 11th and 44th? I’m pretty sure they would much rather get on the 7 at 10th and 41st and transfer than walk .75 miles to 42/7, especially when its raining…or snowing…or cold…or hot.

Joe January 30, 2016 - 2:27 pm

The L is busier than the J/Z because that’s where the demand is. Adding more capacity adjacent to the J/Z, which is barely running at half capacity, makes little sense.

Personnel January 28, 2016 - 5:19 am

” It’s not a part of the 2015-2019 capital plan, and based on the agency’s short- and long-term needs, it’s not likely to be a part of the 2020-2024 plan unless someone else fronts the dough.”

Bingo. Extell, Related, and a bunch of other well established developers should cough up the dough, if they care about this issue in the fist place. Doubt it anyways, transplants are already happy living in those $3.8k a month apartments 4 blocks away from Midtown.

Ryan January 28, 2016 - 7:29 am

Apropos of nothing, it really frustrates me when people refer to this station as “41 St.” That’s useless information. It would be 10 Av station, or potentially 10 Av – PABT, and the 41 St label should be even deader than the rest of this station concept.

orulz January 28, 2016 - 11:12 am

If/when the PABT rebuild happens, that will be the time to build this station. Not only would it be a useful transit connection, it will provide a boost in value for the land the PA wants to develop as a part of the station rebuild.

I’m also partial to the idea of a station on the MNRR west side line (for the MNRR’s Hudson Line Penn Station Access plan) in the vicinity of 42nd street for a connection to the 7 and another boost to real estate value.

Bolwerk January 28, 2016 - 10:28 am

So, give up? We lost. Find a better battle to fight. There are oodles of more useful potential projects out there. This costs more than RBB reactivation probably would to move fewer people every day, and probably no additional people.

SEAN January 28, 2016 - 10:59 am

I think the 10th Av station has become a lost cause &it needs to be recognized as such. If we cant move beyond that, how can we focus on higher priority needs like extending the 2nd Av subway beyond 96th & towards lower Manhattan & Brooklyn.

Wayne's World January 28, 2016 - 11:34 am

It is beyond ridiculous that we are getting that giant useless bird downtown and are not getting a station that would have served a practical purpose.

tacony January 28, 2016 - 12:40 pm

I can’t believe the MTA’s easements for the station weren’t already in place. I assumed that would be included when they “left provisioning in place for a station with two side-platforms.” If not at least securing easements for where the new station would be, what exactly was done at all?

Eric January 29, 2016 - 3:53 am

IIRC the only “provision” existing is that the tracks in this area are horizontal, not inclined up or down.

Peter January 28, 2016 - 1:09 pm

Couldn’t the city direct that a portion of its funding for capital go to this project? It would be extremely wise to dig a shell and actually build out some of the provisions for the station at the same time the redevelopment of this block is occurring, rather than just do easements — even if completion is left for a future date. It will be much more expensive and disruptive to do it once these new buildings are in place. Of course, the shell SHOULD have been dug during the tunneling phase. I’m still amazed that we couldn’t even scrounge up the cash to do that much. Such a lost opportunity. We’ll probably still be talking about this station as a “what if” in 20 years, though I’d love to see the pessimists proven wrong.

pkyc0 January 28, 2016 - 4:52 pm

wouldn’t they have to dig a whole anyway, why not build a station. I’m sure private developers can do it cheaper than the MTA anyway..and they stand to benefit of being right on top of a station.

Brooklynite January 28, 2016 - 6:43 pm

I don’t know about side platform provisions but the benchwalls located between the tracks are almost wide enough for a platform…

AMH January 29, 2016 - 9:13 am

True, those are some really wide benchwalls. The tunnel bore is easily large enough for a full-size train.

John-2 January 29, 2016 - 8:38 am

In the end, a 10th Avenue station would probably come down to not if the area is developed, but who develops it — if you had one or more players connected to the power brokers at City Hall and/or in Albany, that would likely be the only chance to get the station built. If they could see themselves benefiting from a subway stop being directly accessible to the site, that’s when you’d suddenly see funds freed up (i.e., taken from other projects) to built the new station.

DF January 29, 2016 - 9:24 am

Just as a reminder, this


is what 10th and 41st looks like. Yes, if you look the other way, past 40th, you have the ramps, and yes, parts of the area are low-rise. There may be more pressing priorities. But the area around where the station would be is not some sort of wasteland.

johndmuller January 31, 2016 - 2:47 am

Seems that in the long run, a low profile approach to building this station would be for the MTA to acquire a few properties on either side of the ROW, preferably, but not necessarily, in locations most suitable for future subway entrances. Aside from that obvious use, they would be used as above-ground staging areas / access points for the removal of all the dirt, etc. from below-ground and the introduction of the bulk of whatever construction materials are needed down there. The work on each platform could be largely performed outside the confines of the train tunnels until breaking through when they were mostly ready to go, thus minimizing the impact on train operations. The access shafts would of course become part of the vertical circulation for the future passengers and for ventilation and other systems.

If there really are some lo-rise or otherwise not terribly expensive buildings in reasonably good locations for this, then then it seems that the whole idea becomes fairly feasible. After all, most of each property will be available for resale when all is done, complete with the obvious improvement of a subway station entrance on the premises.

WISEINFRASTRUCTURE February 9, 2016 - 11:56 pm

Build a free automated one track elongated liner elevator/monorail that runs from the east side of 10th Avenue (saving having to pass over10th avenue ) to the west 7th Avenue and 42nd Street.

You need to pass over just 9th Avenue and 8th Avenues
You save on the cost of subway station

95+% of those using it will transfer to the subway so little revenue is lost

90 second run time in each direction would result in headways of as little as 3 minutes – almost equal to waiting for the next #7 but without having first spend time descending to fair control and then platform levels

This linear elevated/monorail could be fully automated saving employees

The #7 will not loose time in making this stop and few people want to go/would pay to/from javits to 10th avenue as only 10th to times square is desired

We save most of the cost and operations of digging and maintaining a 10th avenue station (and the related debt service) while providing even better service to those looking for boarding/egress at 10th avenue and 42nd Street. A one track modern system would have minimum visional and noise impact and could even be combined with a walking path to relieve some pedestrian over crowding along 42nd Street.

This could then be a model for extending the existing subway to nearby unserved area including:

*Red Hook to the F
*Kew Garden Hills to the the Kew Gardens Station
*LGA to Citifield
*NYU Hospital/Bellview to Grand Central

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