I was on my way to do an errand yesterday when I was startled to discover that the new entrance that I have been admiring for a long, long time was open at 96th Street and Broadway. There was the predictable speechifying before news cameras outside before the public was admitted around noon, though I didn’t find out until too late.
Even in its unfinished state, the facility is leagues ahead of the grim, gross and puddled entrances on either side of 96th Street and Broadway. This one is actually inviting.
While the full rehabilitation of the station won’t be complete until September, riders must enter the station through the new building in the Broadway median between 95th and 96th Streets. There are no plans to close the old entrances between 93rd and 94th streets.
The point of opening the building now is to allow customers access to the platforms while work proceeds elsewhere in the station, the Transit Authority said.
Now, riders can walk directly down to the platforms instead of down below track level and then up to the platforms, as with the previous entrances, now shuttered. The new station building also eases multi-platform transfers, and will house elevators that will allow disabled New Yorkers to use the station for the first time.
The overall renovation includes installation of new lighting, improved ventilation, a new public address system and a new customer information center along with new signage, security equipment and floor and wall tiles, restoration of historic station finishes and mosaics, and the addition of artwork.
The MTA says the 40-month, $98 million project is still on time and still on budget. In fact, today’s New York Post reports that officials said the project was approximately $25 million under budget.
The clerks in the booths returned my thumbs up and, yes, grinned, while riders approaching the station even dropped their steely poker faces yesterday. I overheard one exclaim, “I’m so excited.”
I have to agree.
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