Joseph McCoy used to board the N train directly at 18th Avenue, but now has to ride two stations back towards Coney Island before heading into Manhattan. Although the extra ride to Bay Parkway only takes a few minutes, the time gap between incoming trains usually tacks an additional 30 minutes onto his commute.
“I definitely get up earlier,” said McCoy, a high school student. “I need to get dressed faster, sleep a little less. It’s very annoying.”
As construction at nine Manhattan-bound station platforms along the N line in south-western Brooklyn moves into its third month, riders are left tracking the progress with impatience.
As we’ve reported, the $395.7 million renovation project, which includes repairs to existing overpasses and canopies and the addition of new stairways and elevators, began on January 18 and is slated to finish over the next four years.
Seven of the northbound platforms – Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Kings Highway, Avenue U and 86th Street – are closed for construction for the next 14 months. Eighth Avenue and Bay Parkway stations, while also undergoing construction, have been equipped with temporary platforms to accommodate riders catching transfer trains.
The same stations will close on the southbound side for another fourteen months once the first stretch of the project is complete. After that, there will be more repairs that won’t close any platforms.
Marisa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for the MTA, said that work has stayed on schedule so far.
“This project will bring all of these stations to a state of good repair,” said Baldeo.
Meanwhile, commuters who live or work near one of the seven closed stations have to either ride backward towards Bay Parkway and transfer onto a Manhattan-bound train or ride forward towards 8th Avenue and catch a southbound train back to reach their stop.
Gene Russianoff, staff attorney and chief spokesman for New York’s Straphangers Campaign, said that while repairs are long overdue, the platform closures create a serious inconvenience for thousands of riders who rely on the N line.
“It’s a disruption to the old routine, which wasn’t so pleasant to begin with,” said Russianoff.
Another hassle straphangers are dealing with is the crowds. Commuter Hassan Kazmi, who lives a few minutes away from Bay Parkway, told us he sees a large increase in people all trying to get onto the same northbound train in the mornings and afternoons.
“It’s a headache,” he said.
Two construction companies — John P. Picone, Inc. and Skanska USA — have been hired to do the renovations.
One construction worker we spoke to said that between 75 to 100 John P. Picone employees are currently working on the project, which takes place mainly during regular business hours.
He added that although his team has run into unexpected problems, they are on track to finish the project ahead of schedule.