MTA rebuilding stairway at Union Square L train platform

Union Square station stairwell on the L train platform (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced last weekend that the stairs connecting the L train with the uptown and downtown NQRW trains will be demolished and rebuilt this March.

The stairs will be unavailable beginning on March 4 while the project is ongoing and the agency said it expects the stairways to reopen by the end of the month.

The MTA said that the uptown and downtown staircases, which currently face each other on the L platform, will be redesigned to make it easier for commuters to navigate than the current configuration and dissipate crowds to move along the platform more quickly.

This includes expanding the width of the lower flight of both staircases from five feet to seven feet so it matches the width of the upper flight, which is already seven feet. The extra width will add enough space for an extra passenger lane so it can fit three people at a time instead of just two.

In the current configuration, the lower flights for both the uptown and downtown connections face each other, which means that all passengers are forced into the same space, causing significant congestion on the platform.

In the redesign, the lower flight of one of the stairways will be flipped to face west, or outward, so that it points away from the other stairway. This new configuration will redistribute riders along the platform into open space rather than at the base of the adjacent stairway, allowing commuters to get up both stairways more quickly.

The MTA is also working on constructing an escalator on the platform adjacent to one of the stairways to ease congestion.

The work on the stairs will be completed during the weekend L train service outages and signs will be posted throughout the station for alternative connections. More information about the timing of the project will be announced as it progresses.

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