96th St. Subway Station and Sidewalk Reduction Moving Ahead

The MTA held a public hearing this week on the proposed $80 million overhaul of the 96th street subway station, one of the system’s oldest stations. While the new subway station looks great, the plan includes the nibbling away of 8 feet of much-needed sidewalk space on either side of Broadway while adding an additional turning lane for motor vehicles.

Second Avenue Sagas reports:

The new structure will be fifty feet south of the current entrances and in the center of Broadway. The MTA claims that the two out of every three passengers who have to wait at a red light to cross Broadway will be delayed a whopping 26 seconds.

As a native of the Upper West Side, though, I’m much more concerned with the decrease in available sidewalk space. The new plans call for moving Broadway nine feet on either direction to compensate for the wider island in the center of Broadway. While the sidewalks would be 15 feet wide, that’s a big decrease from their current width of 23 feet.

But the benefits of the station house should outweigh one shorter block. It will be easier and faster to enter one of the more crowded stations on the West Side. Meanwhile, above ground, the station will resemble the new structure at 72nd St. The same firm is signed on for this project, and the plans call for a wider median with a seating area at 96th St. leading to the station entrance in the middle of the block.

Check out Clarence Eckerson’s StreetFilm, The Sidewalk Nibblers, so named for this Jane Jacobs quote:

"Erosion of cities by automobiles entails so familiar a series of events that they hardly need describing. The erosion proceeds as a kind of nibbling."

  • Steve

    I use buses and the subway at 96th and Broadway regularly. There no question that it is an extremely congested spot for pedestrian and vehicular traffic alike. I agree that the red-light delay to get to the new station on the median is not an issue–that delay is more than offset by the ability to access both uptown and downtown trains without using an underpass. Also, I found that on an average morning I could walk the block on 96th from Amsterdam to Broadway at a comfortable pace more quickly than the bus could travel that same block. Some kind of traffic fix for the vehicular congestion was needed. The problem is that the planners apparently didn’t even consider traditional decongestion measures such as restricting turns at 96th and Broadway; they just gave away part of the sidewalk to make way for turning bays.

  • rhubarbpie

    It’s a huge mistake to reduce sidewalk space at this block, and a clear and unnecessary concession to the automobile at a very congested pedestrian location.

    The 26-second delay is disturbing too. Look at what happens at 72nd Street, and you’ll see pedestrians running across the street all the time against the light because they understandably don’t want to wait for vehicles.

    I don’t think it’s likely to change, though I would hope the new transportation commissioner would review this decision, largely a result of city DOT input.

  • Brian

    There’s also a bus stop in front of the Citibank at the northeast corner of 96th and Broadway. If that bus stop stays there on the 15-foot sidewalk, it will eat up at least 8 feet of sidewalk from the back wall of the bus shelter to the curb, leaving little space to pass. With the Ariel buildings and other developments in the 96th-Columbia corridor, we need more sidewalk space, not less. Some activists should paint the sidewalk’s 9′ on either side or put up cones and ropes to show people where they won’t be able to walk. It would take that for people to wak up and realize how bad an idea it is to eat away the sidewalk. If I only had the time….

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