|Construction at the E. 180th Street-White Plains Road subway station will be|
finished this winter, according to the MTA. (Photo by Fausto Giovanny Pinto)
By JEANMARIE EVELLY and FAUSTO GIOVANNY PINTO
The subway station at East 180th Street and White Plains Road, which serves the No. 2 and 5 trains, is undergoing “total rehabilitation” by the Metropolitan Transit Authority—a two-year project that has turned the site into a construction zone, to the distress of straphangers.
“We’re exposed to this asbestos and dust when we walk through here every day—you can smell it,” said rider Susie Martinez. “Then on the platform you have to walk on this little catwalk because there's only one stairway. It’s dangerous.”
The renovations, which started in 2009 and should wrap up this winter, are part of a $40 million project to repair the dilapidated station and make it fully wheelchair accessible. Construction has been aggravated over the past few months by an influx of extra passengers forced to stop at the station because of suspended No. 2 and 5 train service between East 149th Street-Grand Concourse and East 180th Street.
“It's packed—there’s dust everywhere, people working,” said John Ramos, who takes the train here every day. “No is complaining or fighting this.”
Jacqueline Carter, of the MTA’s office of Government and Community Relations, gave a presentation on the project to Community Board 6 last month and urged local residents to be patient.
The project requires more time and work than is typical, she said, because the site is a designated city and state historic landmark—the four-story building that houses the station, originally opened in 1917, was an administrative site for the now-defunct New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, which had stations at several subway stops on the Eastchester-Dyre Avenue line.
“We’re very restricted by the landmark designation,” Carter explained.
All changes made to the station must comply with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the state’s Office of Parks and Historic Preservation standards, but Carter insists the changes, once completed, will be dramatic and worth the wait.
“It’s going to look amazing,” she said.
The station will be getting two elevators installed on its north and south ends, and wheelchair ramps to make it fully handicap-accessible. Public restrooms and two additional concession stands (in addition to the one that’s already there) will also be added.
The building itself is getting a complete “rehab” on both the inside and outside, Carter said, including refurbished agent booths, new floors, walls and ceilings in customer waiting areas, restoration of the brick pathways and steps in the outside plaza area, fencing and landscaping to the surrounding grounds, new lighting, signage and a new public address system throughout the station.
Permanent artwork—similar to the stained glass windows at other stations on the same line—will be installed by the MTA’s Art for Transit program.
The majority of the work, which started in the fall of 2009 and is scheduled to last 28 months, is expected to finish by this January.
For some riders, the promised improvements are worth the inconveniences.
“The remodeling is going to make it better. It's gonna look good,” said Robin Urquhart. “You just put up with it."