By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The MTA confirmed with little fanfare at the end of April that two stations in the Flatiron and Kips Bay neighborhoods would be closing this summer until the end of the year as part of the Enhanced Station Initiative program. The 28th Street station on the 6 will be closed starting on July 16 and the 23rd Street station on the F/M will be closed beginning on July 23, with both expected to reopen sometime in December.
The agency presented the plan to Community Board 5 on April 23 but specific information about the closures is not available on the MTA’s website. Photos included in the presentation to the community board show significant rusting and water damage in both stations and one of the MTA’s stated goals for the project is to “address structural and cosmetic deficiencies,” as well as improve wayfinding services, navigation and communication to customers.
Renderings of the entrances at 23rd and 28th Streets show inconspicuous improvements, with the most noticeable changes being the addition of new electronic signs announcing service changes and updates, as well as maps to help with navigation.
The interior of the stations will be getting upgrades as well, with renderings showing improvements in lighting, new turnstile areas and wayfinding screens on the platforms.
In addition to the two local stations getting the improvements, 57th Street on the F will also be closed for about six months from July to December for similar cosmetic upgrades and both the 1/2/3 and A/C/E areas in Penn Station will be renovated as well, but work there will be phased and the station will not be fully closed.
Governor Andrew Cuomo initially announced the renovations at the beginning of 2016, proposing the redesign of 30 stations, but the MTA has confirmed that only 16 stations would be completed, including the five stations in the recent package.
The final phase initially included 167th Street and 174-175th Streets on the B/D in the Bronx and 145th Street on the 3, which would bring the total number of stations up to 19, but the MTA could not confirm that this phase is still in the works. The MTA announced in early April that the agency was scaling back the original plan for all 30 stations because most of the budget had already been spent.
Renovations at the Prospect Avenue, Bay Ridge Avenue and 53rd Street stations on the R line in Brooklyn were completed in 2017. The N/Q stations in Queens at 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue are currently closed for the renovations and once those reopen this summer, Broadway and 39th Avenue on the N/Q will be closed until next January.
Cathedral Parkway-110th Street and 72nd Street on the B/C and 163rd Street on the C are all currently closed for the work and 86th Street on the B/C is scheduled to close in June, with all Upper West Side stations expected to reopen by this fall.
Frustrated commuters told the newly-reopened Gothamist earlier this week that the closures due to the renovations on the stations in Queens were worsening the situation when signal problems caused extensive delays, with the open stations becoming “dangerously packed.”