Sunday, June 11, 2006

2nd Avenue Subway: Shrunken Dreams, Dying City?

So now it looks like the Second Avenue Subway (SAS for short) is finally going to be built.

And the present plan sucks.

When the IND Second System was originally put forth (probably with the idea of forcing the IRT and BMT to sell itself to the City), the SAS was planned to be four to six lines wide and went from the Bronx to Queens. Right now the SAS is planned to be just two lines wide (except for a crossing point with the 63rd Street subway section) and stay fully within Manhattan.

Maybe it's too much today for a transit system to dream of anything more than a subpar system, but where are the dreamers who can plan for something better? I cannot believe that the last person who could think big thoughts in New York was Mr. Moses with his expressways that threaten to choke the city into a smog-accelerated demise.

Anyway, here's my thoughts as to how the SAS should be built:
  • One or Two Express Lines in addition to the two local lines planned. Preferrably two.
  • Direct Connection to the Bronx, refitting Line 4 or 6 for use by the SAS. I'd prefer Line 4 so you could have transfer points (and possibly connect with the D train), but Line 6 will work out well enough (Line 5 is used by Line 2 as well, so there'd be a conflict there).
  • More Stops on the main line. Add one at 6th Street north of Houston, one between Seaport and Hanover Square, one near 60th Street (connect with the Roosevelt Island Tramway; would involve shifting the 55th street stop to 52nd street), and a stop at 78th Street (with the 72nd street stop shifted to 70th or 69th).
  • A link from near the Seaport stop to the Hoyt Street-Schermerhorn Street stop via Court Street, linking the SAS with lines in Brooklyn and Queens and integrating the Court Street stub (now inactive) into the system.
  • Build a 7 line station at 2nd and 42nd. With the SAS working as an intermediate point between the 7 and the surface, there's no longer a reason to not place a station at that point.
  • If you're going to put in an endpoint at 125th and Lexington, why not do the obvious: create a 125th line across to Broadway. With connections to the Broadway, Eigth Avenue and Lenox/Malcolm X Lines, it would allow for extra interconnectability plus a possible place for redevelopment further north in Manhattan.
  • You could even make build the tunnels in such a way that you could build an extension across to Broadway in Queens (I'd say La Guardia, but I'm guessing they'll want any route going in that direction to go to Uptown and Downtown Manhattan for that)
Maybe the last item was a pipe dreams (five miles without any point to drop off anyone, no real access to the centers of NYC), but everything else can be implimented with benefit to the system. While there would be some cost to all of these items, I believe it would all be worth it, especially the four-line idea and the extra stations.

A few thoughts. Likely just an unfulfillable wish list, but something I want anyway.

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