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."