The newest talk of constructing an additional exit at First Ave. for the L train asks Uncle Sam to pick up the bill.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials say that federal dollars would go a long way toward securing the $300 million necessary for the agency’s plan to overhaul the 10.3-mile subway line — as part of which, new exits and entrances would be installed on Avenue A as part of the First Ave. stop.
Several years of further review by the Federal Transit Administration are necessary, however, before a final decision on the M.T.A.’s request, which was announced on Dec. 12.
Sixty percent of the roughly 31,000 weekday riders who enter or exit the First Ave. station would use the proposed new entrances at Avenue A, according to the M.T.A. Plans also call for the installation of elevators at the 90-year-old station in order to make it compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Adding new exits at First Ave. and the Bedford Ave. stop in Brooklyn is one part of an overall plan to update the L line, which has experienced a 98 percent surge in ridership since 1998, and a 27 percent increase since 2007, according to the M.T.A. Another proposed improvement would boost train service by two trains per hour, a 10 percent increase over the present frequency of service.
“We have to increase capacity on the Canarsie Line and improve customer flow at stations to meet this increasing demand, and securing federal funding for a project of this magnitude will go a long way toward achieving that goal,” Carmen Bianco, New York City Transit president, said in a statement.
A previous effort led by state Senator Brad Hoylman was unsuccessful in convincing Extell Development to bankroll new exits on Avenue A while it developed an adjacent lot. Raising awareness around the cause of new entrances/exits there both for the safety and convenience of subway riders was the primary motivation behind that effort, a Hoylman spokesperson told The Villager in March.
In a Dec. 22 e-mail, a Hoylman representative praised the M.T.A.’s request for federal funding.
“This badly needed funding will help support new street-level entrances that will make it easier for straphangers to enter and exit the station, and ultimately reduce potentially dangerous platform crowding,” said Peter Ajemian.
City Councilmember Rosie Mendez is also behind the proposed plan, according to her spokesperson, John Blasco, who noted an additional potential benefit.
“Bringing an entrance to Avenue A would help a lot with traffic on First Ave.,” he said in a telephone interview.
If eventually approved, the project would be the first improvement to the L line under the plan, which would take several years to complete once funding is acquired, according to the M.T.A. Repairs to the Canarsie tube, through which the L train runs from Manhattan to Brooklyn, are also necessary due to damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Fifty millions dollars in funding for L train improvements were included in the M.T.A.’s 2010-2014 capital plan, with additional funding included in the agency’s proposed 2015-2019 plan, according to the M.T.A.
The newly announced request for federal dollars will be made through the F.T.A.’s Core Capacity program. Eligible projects must propose expansions in capacity of at least 10 percent to key transportation corridors that are either already overcapacity or will be within five years, according to the F.T.A.