Stuy Town-Peter Cooper residents have been asking for Avenue A entrance to L train since 1947

Rendering of Avenue A entrance to First Avenue subway station, currently under construction

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the L train slowdown officially underway, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents and others who rely on the train are already enduring service cuts and crowding. However, the bright light at the end of the tunnel, especially for residents living farther east, along with a safe subway system, is the promise of a new entrance at Avenue A and East 14th Street for the First Avenue station.

Town & Village has reported in the last five years that neighborhood residents, transit advocates and local elected officials had been asking the MTA to consider a new entrance at least since 2014 and were denied on more than one occasion, but the request is actually almost as old as Stuyvesant Town itself.

A Stuy Town resident who moved into the complex when it opened in 1947 wrote a letter to the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation, which operated the L at the time, asking if the transit agency would expand the First Avenue station by building an entrance at Avenue A. Resident Reginald Gilbert of 625 East 14th Street argued that pressure on the station from the influx of new residents made the new entrance a necessity.

“With the increase of tenants in (Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village), the First Avenue station is becoming more and more crowded during the rush hours with passengers jamming up in the first cars going west and the rear cars coming east,” Gilbert wrote in his letter, which T&V also published in the November 27, 1947 issue. “This condition exists with only a small portion of (the complex) occupied and will be aggravated with the influx of new residents during the next few months.”

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Cyclists, ‘busway’ concern L train neighbors

Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg (center) (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

L train riders at a recent town hall on the upcoming shutdown are saying they’re concerned about an increase in bike traffic as a result of the mitigation and the plan to make 14th Street primarily a thoroughfare for buses, as well as accessibility for seniors and disabled residents. The meeting’s venue, The New School’s West 12th Street auditorium, was packed with more than a hundred community residents with concerns about the plans on Wednesday, May 9.

The first question came from an attendee who didn’t mince words.

“How are you going to train cyclists so they don’t kill us?” asked David Hertzberg, a West 16th Street resident. Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg admitted that the increase in cyclists would be a difficult responsibility.

“Cycling will be a hot topic,” she said. “We’ll be working with the NYPD on enforcement and we know we’re going to have a big safety challenge.”

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14th St. SBS route planned ahead of L shutdown

The MTA and the city are working on plans to enhance bus and ferry service, including Select Bus Service for 14th Street. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue subway station just west of Avenue A. (Corner pictured here opposite Stuyvesant Town) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA has announced that preliminary street work on the new entrance for the L train at Avenue A and East 14th Street will begin this month. The new entrance is planned for the north and south sides of East 14th Street, just west of Avenue A.

Additionally, the MTA recently discussed plans for a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 14th Street to help make the looming L train shutdown less of a nightmare.

The plans for mitigation were discussed at the last Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.

The shutdown, which is expected to begin in April 2019, will affect about 225,000 riders and cuts off train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan so the MTA can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The MTA is working on plans with the Department of Transportation for a series of buses, road improvements and ferries.

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Subway vigilante takes aim at MTA

Goetz blasts $40M projected cost of First Ave. L station’s Ave. A entrance

Bernie Goetz says Donald Trump could do a better job than the MTA at getting the  Avenue A entrance built at the First Avenue L station. (Pictured) Goetz gestures to the long walk down from the platform’s east end to First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bernie Goetz says Donald Trump could do a better job than the MTA at getting the Avenue A entrance built at the First Avenue L station. (Pictured) Goetz gestures to the long walk down from the platform’s east end to First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Over 30 years ago, a man named Bernie Goetz would become known as the subway vigilante for shooting four men who tried to mug him on the train.

These days, Goetz, who lives on West 14th Street, leads a much quieter existence running his own small business, Vigilante Electronics, and on his own time, rescuing and rehabilitating injured squirrels in the neighborhood.

But one issue he felt the need to talk about recently is the First Avenue L subway station, where the MTA wants to add an Avenue A entrance as part of an overall upgrade project along the line.

Goetz is in support of this idea, but suggested that the reason it still hasn’t happened is the $40 million estimated price tag the MTA has put on it.

“Donald Trump could do it for five million and do it in one year,” said Goetz, although he then doubled that figure to account for entrances on each side of East 14th Street. Asked if he’s a supporter of the GOP presidential candidate, Goetz shot back, “I don’t even want to talk about it.”

He added that he would like to hear an estimate from an independent contractor. “I think it could be done for a small fraction of that,” he said.

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Pols push for Ave. A entrance to L station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As crowds spilled into the First Avenue L train station during rushhour on Monday morning, two local City Council members stressed the need for an additional subway entrance on Avenue A.

While last December, the MTA announced that a new entrance was part of its capital plan, Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez said that they want to make sure the project remains a priority for the agency.

“We are raising our voices to make sure it stays in the capital plan. It deserves to stay,” said Garodnick. “Nothing is done until it’s done,” he added.

Late last year, the MTA drafted a $32 billion capital budget, which was rejected by a state board, and it’s currently facing a $15 billion deficit.

Mendez noted that a new entrance has been a priority of hers since she worked for her predecessor in the Council, Margarita Lopez, who also had pushed for it alongside then-State Assembly Member Steven Sanders. On Monday, as commuters continued to file into the station, Mendez gestured their way, saying, “You can see it’s very well needed.”

Due to the growing population in Williamsburg, in recent years ridership on the L line has soared. Since 1998, there’s been a 98 percent increase with 300,000 straphangers riding the train every day. Over 49,000 of those straphangers use the First Avenue or Bedford Avenue station.

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