Byford: Complete Clark Street Station Closure For 8 Months Preferred, But There Are Options

Update: There’s a link to the TA’s survey here (click on “Read full story” to get the live link). These are the takeaways from this evening’s meeting with Transit Authority President Andy Byford (in photo at right, conversing with City Council Member Stephen Levin) at St. Francis College:

1. The TA’a preferred plan would be to close the Clark Street subway station, serving the 2 and 3 lines, completely while working on all three of the frequently malfunctioning elevators. This, Mr. Byford said, could be completed in eight months, with contractors incentivized to meet the schedule.

2. There are two possible options that would involve working on one elevator at a time, and thereby leave the station open at least some of the time. It isn’t possible to work on two and leave only one running, as this would violate the fire code and create the possibility that the one working elevator could stall en route and would make extracting the passengers from the stalled elevator more difficult and time consuming. One option would be to keep the station open at all times; this would take two years to complete. The other would be to have it open only during hours of peak usage, which are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. This would take 22 months. Both of these options would add $6 million to the cost of the project.

3. Mr. Byford said, with great regret, that there is at present no practicable way to make Clark Street ADA compliant. The platform is too narrow to accommodate an elevator. An audience member asked about the possibility of a side platform to provide such accommodation. Mr. Byford said this couldn’t be included in the present plan, but was worth looking into in the future. Another audience member asked about the possibility of replacing the short stairways that connect the lower mezzanine, where the elevators land, with the platform. This could be beneficial for those with less serious mobility issues. Again, Mr. Byford said this could be considered, but not as part of the present project.

4. There was great concern expressed from the audience about the fate of the merchants whose stores line the arcades leading to and from the subway entrance. Mr. Byford said the arcades would remain accessible from the streets, and that prominent advertising would be displayed to let the public know these businesses were open. Since the stores pay rent to the owners of the St. George building, it was asked if the TA would consider subsidizing the businesses during any extended shutdown. Mr. Byford noted that this would add to the project’s cost, but didn’t rule it out.

5. Early in his presentation, Mr. Byford said it would not be necessary to provide shuttle bus service from Clark Street to other stations – Borough Hall on the 2, 3, 4, and 5, Court Street on the R, and High Street on the A and C – as all of these are a short, easily walkable distance from Clark Street. An audience member, noting that the elevator project is slated to begin during the winter of 2020-21, said even these walks could be challenging for many during winter weather. Mr. Byford said the Heights’ narrow streets and limited turning radius presented a challenge for standard city buses, but allowed that a service using smaller buses might be feasible. Again, this would add to cost.

In his opening remarks and throughout his presentation, Mr. Byford stressed his determination to get as much community input as possible before coming to a decision, which will be his and the TA Board’s, on which option to pursue. In furtherance of this, survey forms were distributed to those attending, asking us to rank the three options in order of preference. Mr. Byford asked that we make note, in the “Comments” section, if our ranking was dependent on a condition, such as preferring the complete shutdown option only if shuttle bus service is provided. These surveys will be passed out to commuters at Clark Street, and will be availble on line.

In addition to Council Member Levin, several other elected officials were present – Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, and State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, who acted as emcee. All, including Council Member Levin, spoke briefly, all stressing the need for community engagement in the process. Representatives from the offices of Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer were also present.

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  • fultonferryres

    Didn’t they say that peak hours were weekdays 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm, not 7am-10pm?

  • Claude Scales

    I heard 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but I’ve corrected the text, as the time brackets you gave are closer to the TA’s definition of “rush hours.”

  • fultonferryres

    Andy Inglesby confirmed to me “ROUGHLY: 4:00-7:00 p.m. for evening, and ROUGHLY 6:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. morning, but these are not official periods”

  • Claude Scales

    I’ve kept the time frames you gave, as they are closer to my memory. Any TA times are, of necessity, “ROUGHLY.”

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    It takes no great imagination to work back from “the preferred” [and awful] “solution” to the process that led up to it. Bureaucrats always love the “pull the bandaid off solution,” because they can plan better. Nobody likes the “contingencies” that less drastic solutions entail – in this case, one may have to check twice a day whether some glitch in construction has resulted in Clark Street going on “bypass” mode. But bureaucrats hate them the most, because getting a job done on time and on budget is how they earn bonuses!

    The North Heights has an increasingly “gray” population, and while I don’t fault Byford & Co. from scheduling a “community meeting” in the evening, one should recognize that those who will be most affected are the ones least likely to have attended.

    The numbers for the 2 alternatives have a manufactured sound, make no mistake. (Just as with the BQE.) It’s almost as if someone said, “If we say it will stretch it out from 8 months to 12, everyone will say, ‘DO THAT.’ But if we mention 22 months or 24 months, they’ll go along with what WE WANT.”

    Last, it borders on insane – and very possibly against Federal law – to contemplate a project this big which does NOT make the station ADA compliant. There is a secondary entrance to the food court and Trader Joe’s in the City Point development … that makes use of the perfectly sound “chair lift” approach. That could certainly be implemented at Clark Street. For another example, see the outdoor (hence, more “vulnerable”) chair lift outside the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue on Remsen Street, just west of Clinton. When Mr. Byford says, “No big deal to get to Boro Hall,” it’s clear that he and his staff lacked empathy.

    I live in a building with – wait for it – 3 elevators side by side. They required the same “gut rehab” – out with the old, in with the new. Yes, it was protracted, but it was far from hellish. Yes, there’s a difference between the 2 situations in that Byford’s preferred approach was a non-starter, but there was a much smaller budget and NO middle-of-the-night work.

    Of course, the BQE “fix” is the elephant in the room here. City officials have simply got to remember that they can’t minimize major dislocations to communities with “They’ll thank us for getting it done that much faster.”

  • Andrew Porter

    Here and following are some of my photos. Claude Scales, left, and Mary Frost of The Eagle:

  • Andrew Porter
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  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I hope you’re not presenting this as remotely “factual.” It’s fake something – i.e., akin to Trump’s “my inauguration had millions of people in attendance!” Below is a photo taken in Korea; if Seoul can do it, so can NY!

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Or better yet – this one, from Kuala Lumpur (for heaven’s sake!) It’s especially telling because “our stairs” are wider & you can see that it doesn’t block them significantly when not in use!

  • Andrew Porter

    That’s it, shoot the photographer. I was there, took a shot of this image. If you find this offensive, argue with Byford and his team—who are not here.


    Byford did mention ADA access as problematic. MTA has been
    able to get away with this due to fact that the buses are ADA.
    Most wheelchair bound use either Access a Ride or take a bus
    to a station that has elevators to platforms. Closest being either
    Boro Hall or Jay St./Willoughby.
    If it ever gets done prefer they do it first on High before Clark!

  • Clara West

    Excellent write up as usual Claude. Hope readers take
    the time to check out the write out on Eagle by Mary Frost
    as well.
    I did get a chance to speak with Byford for about 5 minutes
    at meeting before the presentation started.
    I left a comment on Eagle re the Clark issue.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    You post a picture of a building, no problem…. You post some propaganda … and you do well to identify it as such or run the risk of people thinking you are presenting an “exhibit,” as you did – wonderfully with the slide about the specifics of each proposal!

    Photography is no more “neutral” and neutered than any other form of journalism!

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I happen not to have a mobility challenge and am grateful for it at High Street more than most places. Parenthetically, they have “ripped out” the escalators there 2 or 3 times in my long residence in the Heights. They still have an up-time rate that is dreadful…. People who imagine that “NEW ELEVATORS” in the Clark Street station will be trouble-free are more than a little delusive! Yes, they will have all sorts of computer controls, and programming errors will probably make us hanker for the “good old” “not very good” elevators we have now. (Mark my words!)

    As I understand the ADA, it is an attempt – as with similar legislation benefitting women and racial minorities – to level the playing field.

    Telling people who are already at a disadvantage, “so it’ll take you an extra hour to get to work, you still CAN get there, can’t you?” ought to strike any decent person as a profoundly unreasonable – and very likely unlawful – position.

    NOTE: this is not an attack on you who just posted. I think you’re right that some legal dim bulb at the MTA believes it could withstand lawsuits over policies like these. I doubt it! The MTA is managed so very badly that one can bet against them with the same confidence the NY Mets have earned. But mostly, they do as little as they possibly can in keeping with the ADA … and they do it badly.

    See my note about “stair-lifts” elsewhere in these comments. If an expenditure isn’t at least $1 billion and doesn’t let some pol. pay off someone who donated to his campaign, it’s never even considered.

  • Proto Plano

    You have some very insightful comments on this blog, but accusing someone who posts event content photos for those who did not attend as propagandist is not one of them.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I agree, though Nomcebo’s takeaway quote: “Photography is no more “neutral” and neutered than any other form of journalism!” is quite astute, if only vacuumed away from Andrew’s posts here. Seemed pretty clear to me he was just sharing what was shown without commentary (which we’re intelligent to arrive at ourselves, he must have optimistically guessed).

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Objection (especially any personal animus) withdrawn. I, too, am grateful – usually – to AP for his “documentation.” Just let’s remember that getting something printed professionally – the sign – and I think that’s its fundamental purpose and effect – SHOULD NOT mislead anyone that its assertions are factual. In this case, they’re simply self-serving.

    Saying that it’s not viable to drill down from the middle of Clark St. to the platform IS probably true, but the station could be made ADA compliant within a month for under $1MM. That 29 years after the ADA passed, it is not speaks volumes about how the MTA allocates OUR resources. Heights people often help moms & dads with supersized strollers, but a wheelchair forces its user to Boro Hall. Remember, Access-A-Ride is subsidized (as it should be.) Coercing people into what are essentially taxis is a tiny part of why the subways are a mess.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Also, I’ve noticed that many of the Access-A-Ride ambulettes seem to be piloted by the absolute worst drivers on NYC streets. And I agree with you: NYC’s non-compliance with regard to accessibility is shameful. In keeping with the Access-A-Ride piloting standards, I guess.

  • Arch Stanton

    Problem with those stair mounted lift systems is they generally do not meet safety codes here. For one thing someones foot could get pinched/crushed between the bottom-back of lift platform and the top-front of a step as it descends. Liability laws are different overseas. Sorry to burst you conspiracy theory bubble.

  • Mary Kim

    Great to see the 2 smartest and nicest reporters in Brooklyn sitting together! (I’ve yet to meet Claude in person, for some crazy reason.)