Regional Plan Association is calling for major fixes of the subway and transit situation across the New York City region and is proposing to extend the 2nd Avenue subway into The Bronx as well the much needed Triboro line that would stretch from Co-op City to Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
The plan even calls for the creation of a “pedestrian district” on 149th Street from the 145th Street Bridge to the Bruckner making it an automobile free zone and decking over parts of America’s Parking Lot aka the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Oh, and they’re also recommending that our subway system no longer offer 24 hour service and instead shutting it down from 12:30AM to 5AM so that during that time critical repairs and work can be conducted.
Overnight services would be replaced with buses mimicking the subway routes.Pipe dream? Perhaps, but we need to dream big to fix this mess we’re in thanks to the dysfunctional MTA although we’re not in agreement whatsoever to shutdown the system.
NYC is a 24 hour city and to shut out the services late night would disproportionately impact low-income New Yorkers who are the ones often traveling the belly of the beast going to from work.
RPA recommends that the 2nd Avenue subway connect with 149th Street and Grand Concourse at the 2/4/5 subway line and then run up the Concourse connecting along with the B and D line which is heavily underutilized. This would provide direct connection to the East Side for Bronxites who currently have to make the switch at 161st Street to the 4 line.
The plan also mentions extending the D line into the East Bronx as well.a
As for the Triboro Line, it would stretch from Co-op City along the same rail lines planned for the four Metro North East Bronx expansion line going over Randall’s Island and the Hell’s Gate Bridge into Queens and running down straight through the middle of that borough and Brooklyn before veering west and ending in Sunset Park.
The 22 stations have been identified throughout The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn of which half would intersect existing subway lines connecting the Triboro Line to 17 other subway lines.
It would be constructed along existing abandoned rail lines that are full intact requiring minimal improvements to make this a reality and the estimated price tag ranges from $1 billion to $2 billion which is considerably less than the nearly $4.5 billion it cost to build the 2nd Avenue subway which, in our opinion, was a waste of money because its impact is minimal compared to the 100,000 residents the Triboro line would benefit not to mention the majority of job creation is occurring in the outer boroughs.
In fact, the cost of the Triboro Line is siginificantly less than the second phase for the 2nd Avenue subway line which would extend it from 96th Street to 125th Street and Lexington at a cost of $6 billion.
The savings in commute times alone would be worth the price tag not to mention the open access to jobs Bronxites may not take due to the current layout of our Manhattan-centric subway system which can add well over 30 minutes to a trip from The Bronx parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
According to the data, a Bronxite traveling from the proposed Hunts Point station would save over 30 minutes commuting to Middle Village and adjacent areas in Queens and the same for those traveling to Flatbush. At the very minimum, commuters would potentially save over 5 hours commuting a week.
This isn’t just about commuting but one’s quality of life when you have time to free up to do other things than be crushed like sardines in a subway car.
Creating a more robust transit system would help serve the 59% of Bronx residents who do not own a car.
(Scroll through the map to see the entire proposed route from The Bronx to Sunset Park)
At the Hunts Point Station there would be a transfer to the 6 line seamlessly moving passengers from one line to the other.
The plan also calls for a short connection from the Hub at 3rd Avenue and 149th Street on the 2 and 5 line utilizing the abandoned Port Morris line that runs under St Mary’s Park providing not only residents in the Melrose and Mott Haven neighborhoods with a direct connection to Queens and Brooklyn but also to the hundreds of thousands of passengers who utilize the White Plains Road and Dyre Avenue lines.
The Hub’s importance as The Bronx’s transportation nexus would also increase with the revival (of sorts) of the Third Avenue El.
Since service ended on the Third Avenue El on April 29, 1973, it left a gaping hole in the heart of the South Bronx creating a transit desert which sped up the devastation and abandonment of the area which by 1980 saw the loss of almost 400,000 residents in The Bronx. 44 years later we have climbed back to our peak population of 1970 and projections show that it will only continue to increase as residents flee escalating real estate prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
But we don’t have the transportation network to support our current population how are we going to accommodate even more residents?
RPA proposes reactivating Third Avenue via a new tunnel underneath for a Metro North express track to relieve congestion on the rails running up and down Park Avenue and of course, 3rd Avenue and 149th Street at The Hub would also have a direct connection to this regional network.
With the creation of this tunnel, RPA then suggests that the Metro North line running along Park Avenue be utilized to provide access as a sort of high speed subway rail line to alleviate the lack of reliable transit service along Third Avenue.
Speaking of 149th Street, RPA also proposes the creation of a pedestrian district along the busy street from the 145th Street bridge to Bruckner Boulevard where only essential vehicles would be allowed. Private vehicles would be prohibited from utilizing this now overly congested thoroughfare.
Another part of the plan calls for the decking over major stretches of the Cross Bronx Expressway which would create dozens of new acres for development and open spaces (preferably truly affordable housing) and to remove part of Mosholu Parkway and Gun Hill Road that runs through Van Cortlandt Park which would create safer east/west connections in the park.
Sadly what’s missing is one of the most important things Bronxites want and that’s a cross Bronx subway line or light rail to make crossing our borough easy in a borough where all subway lines run North/South.
The recommendations set forth by RPA are quite ambitions and maybe none of them will ever get done because no one in government dares to dream big and long term but at least it’s starting, or rather continuing, a conversation we all need to have if we truly care about the future of our city and region.
What are your thoughts?