The sprawling 14th Street subway complex that links stations on Sixth and Seventh avenues is set to become fully accessible at both ends, THE CITY has learned.
The MTA last year committed to installing four elevators at the 14th Street and Sixth Avenue stop for the F, M and L lines to partially settle a lawsuit. But the transit agency will now extend the accessibility upgrades to the 1/2/3 train platforms a block west, according to new documents posted to the agency’s online capital program dashboard.
“The elevators in this complex will be completed as one project, maximizing efficiency, with the elevator to the L platform set to be operational first,” said Maxwell Young, an MTA spokesperson.
The elevator to the L platform is supposed to be operational by 2022, which would make it the fourth stop along the line to be fully accessible.
“This complex is the 16th-busiest station in the entire subway system and a critical transfer point,” said Colin Wright of TransitCenter, an advocacy organization. “The MTA needs to make it accessible as soon as possible.”
Extra Work, Extra Money
The change in plans will bump the price of preliminary design to $10.6 million — more than double the $4.6 million it would have cost if the work had been limited to the stop at Sixth Avenue.
More than 48,000 riders used the subway complex on weekdays last year, according to MTA ridership figures. It’s among the busiest non-accessible stations in a system where 75% of the stations are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I’m coming from the Hospital for Special Surgery, so I don’t really feel like climbing stairs,” said Patricia Gonzalez of Manhattan, who was at the 14th Street F/M platform at Sixth Avenue. “Elevators would be good for everyone.”
THE CITY reported last week that New York City Transit missed its mark for releasing the list of the next 50 stations to be made accessible to riders with disabilities. Updates on the MTA’s capital plan dashboard indicate future accessibility projects are planned for the F line’s Avenue I and Neptune Avenue stops in Brooklyn. Construction will be funded through a future five-year capital plan.
‘I Almost Tripped Twice’
The addition of elevators to the 14th Street complex will be funded under the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Program, which is expected to be presented in September with a projected price tag of nearly $40 billion.
“Having elevators here would help me tremendously,” said Alex Brown, 80, who leaned on a cane as he walked down the stairs to the F/M platform at 14th Street. “I almost tripped twice going down the stairs.”
The MTA said it would move money toward the accessibility upgrades along 14th Street after abandoning plans last year to install platform doors at the L’s Third Avenue stop.
The platform doors, similar to those used at AirTrain stations in Queens, are designed to cut down on people jumping or falling onto the tracks. They would have been installed during the 15-month shutdown of the L’s East River tunnel and its five Manhattan stations.
But the long-planned partial shutdown of the line was scrapped in January when Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an alternate plan devised by Cornell and Columbia engineering professors could keep L trains running, while doing repairs on nights and weekends.
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