February 17, 2012
The week in subway news: Fastrack disruption and 7 train construction

-Nigel Chiwaya

Broadway line gets Fastracked: New Yorkers had plenty of subway construction news this week, as four subway lines had major capital campaign news. On Monday, Fastrack construction work began on the 1, 2 and 3 lines. Fastrack, the MTA’s compressed repair schedule that condenses months of repairs into four nights, disrupted riders on the Broadway line weeknights between 10 p.m. and 5 p.m. Subway service was suspended below 34th street on all three lines, and the 3 train was suspended entirely.

The MTA conducted Fastrack repairs on the Lexington avenue line last month, and Gothamist reports that the MTA carried out over 300 repairs in the four nights. According to the New York Times Fastrack repairs allowed the MTA to save $60,000 in labor costs. The Daily News reports that the MTA will schedule Fastrack repairs for 12 more weeks during the year, shutting down subway lines for total of 59 more nights.

7-train extension reaches milestone: The MTA is known for its never-ending construction projects, but this week one came closer to completion. On Tuesday the New York Post reported that the MTA completed the tunnel construction for the extension of the 7-train. The project, which will bring 7 service to the Hudson yards at 34th street and 11th avenue at a cost of $2.1 billion, is currently slated to be completed by early 2014. According to the Post, the station mezzanine at Hudson Yards “features a soaring, curved roof with a 1,200-foot-long cavern — about the size of the Empire State Building if it were laid on its side.”

The extension was originally schedule to be completed by December 2013, butunspecified delays have pushed back the completion date.

Iconic benches near expiration date: Another part of old New York is on borrowed time, as subway’s traditional wooden benches will be phased out. Pete Donohue of the Daily News reported on Wednesday that the MTA had begun replacing the wooden benches with metal ones. The MTA does not have the money to replace all of the benches at once however, so they will replace them as the stations they are in come up for renovations.

Benjamin Kabak of Second Ave Sagas explained why the MTA is bothering to spend money on the renovations, saying that the wooden benches rot and carry bed bugs. Periodically replacing the benches, Kabak argues, is a bigger money pit. “Ultimately, says the MTA, stainless steel is ‘easier and less costly to maintain,’” writes Kabak, “although the authority didn’t release cost figures for the new benches.”