Bay Ridge's 53rd Street station on the R line reopened Friday after a six months of renovation. 

Bay Ridge’s 53rd Street station on the R line reopened Friday after a six months of renovation.

(Kevin C Downs/For New York Daily News)

The R train won’t arrive at the 53rd St. station in Brooklyn any faster, but at least the accommodations have improved.The 53rd St. stop in Sunset Park on Friday was the first station to reopen after a six-month makeover as part of Gov. Cuomo’s 33-station rehab initiative.

Yosendivel Medina, 21, said the station "looks amazing."

Yosendivel Medina, 21, said the station “looks amazing.”

(Kevin C Downs/For New York Daily News)

The station got new lighting, USB charging ports, countdown clocks, leaning benches, and digital information screens. There is also new mosaic artwork from a Brooklyn-based artist, Mickalene Thomas.

On the sidewalk, crews installed a canopy with a countdown clock mounted above the staircase.

“It looks amazing,” said Sunset Park resident Yosendivel Medina, 21, a culinary student. “I feel like I’m in Manhattan.”

Another benefit for Medina — her closest station is back in service.

A new directional line map on the wall at the station.

A new directional line map on the wall at the station.

(Kevin C Downs/For New York Daily News)

“Now I can wake up late,” she said.

Sheila Pisciotta, 57, paid the $2.75 fare just to see the new station with her husband John.

“It’s great for the neighborhood. It makes it feel welcoming,” Pisciotta said. “I’ve seen he worst. Now I’ve seen the best.”

The next stations undergoing renovations to open are Prospect Ave. and Bay Ridge Ave. on the R line.

The reopening also attracted subway buffs eager to see a rare sight in New York — a modern subway station.

Clement McClean, a 17-year-old computer engineering student at City College with time to kill, swung by the new station after learning from friends that it had finally opened.

A new mosaic from Brooklyn-based artist, Mickalene Thomas adorns the wall in the renovated station.

A new mosaic from Brooklyn-based artist, Mickalene Thomas adorns the wall in the renovated station.

(Kevin C Downs/For New York Daily News)

The glass barriers near the turnstiles and station booth caught his eye.

“It makes the station feel open,” McClean said.

Just under six months ago, work began on the 53rd Street R station to make it better…faster…stronger. Today, straphangers can reap the rewards of having to walk further for a transit option for around six months, as the new and improved 53rd Street stop is now open and features things like new benches, countdown clocks, artwork and of course, USB ports. You know, for millennials!

Wielding a Publishers Clearinghouse-esque comically oversized MetroCard, MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim ceremonially swiped in to the new station (before swiping in with a normal-sized MetroCard) to open it yesterday morning. Hakim then showed off a number of the station improvements, including an electronic display board showing service changes, clear glass at the station entrances to provide more light underground, new mosaic art from Brooklyn artist Mickalene Thomas and even plugged her phone into one of the USB ports.

“We got the job done quickly and efficiently. Our teams worked day and night to complete work on this extensively renovated station in just a little over five months,” Hakim said in a statement announcing the station reopening. “As a result, customers who use the station will now have a wide array of new tools to manage their commutes, including digital screens, countdown clocks located before the turnstiles and on the platforms, USB ports, and Wi-Fi connectivity.”

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One of the new benches in the renovated station. (Patrick Cashin/MTA)

According to a press release from the MTA, the work on the station was completed ahead of schedule, thanks in part through the use of a design-build contract, which puts a single team in charge of both the design of the station and its construction. That same process is being used in the other subway stations where similar improvements are slated to take made.

The Bay Ridge Avenue and Prospect Avenue R stations are both currently undergoing the same work, and should both reopen by the end of the year.

Updated
By Alfonso Castillo  alfonso.castillo@newsday.com

An artist rendering of the new Hicksville LIRR station. Photo Credit: AECOM

The MTA has finalized a $57 million deal that it says will shave more than a year off of its planned overhaul of its busiest LIRR station on Long Island — Hicksville.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board last week unanimously approved the $56.7 million contract to the joint venture of Railroad Construction Company/Citnalta to rehabilitate the 55-year old station.

The work will include installing new platforms, canopy roofs, drainage systems, platform waiting rooms, staircases, escalators, lighting, and signs. The work is part of a larger $120 million effort at the station that will include the construction of more than 3,000 feet of new track to connect to a nearby train storage area.

Although initially slated to take nearly three years, the LIRR said, by taking one track and platform out of service for most of the summer of 2017, it expects to be able to finish the work in 22 months.

“Hicksville station is the LIRR’s third busiest station — topped only by Penn and Jamaica — and it’s a key transfer point for customers on the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. “To have such an important transportation hub encumbered by construction for three years was out of the question.”

Work on the project is expected to begin in July.

BY ,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 7:29 PM
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The $88 million Harlem RBI DREAM charter school, which kicked off classes in August, is the first major new school building to open in the neighborhood in three decades.

Yankee star Mark Teixeira will join Harlem RBI founder Rich Berlin, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others Thursday for the official opening of an $84 million charter school and affordable housing development project in East Harlem.

The DREAM charter school, which kicked off classes in August, is the first major school building to open in the neighborhood in three decades, said Berlin, whose organization operates the school.

Slugger Teixeira pledged $1 million to the undertaking.

 

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Mercury, the swift god of travel, appears on the facade of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building in the Bronx, as he does at Grand Central Terminal.
Mercury, the swift god of travel, appears on the facade of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building in the Bronx, as he does at Grand Central Terminal.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

You already know. A notable New York City train station — ornamented with a handsome figure of the god Mercury, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, once daunted by bad fortune but handsomely renovated not long ago — has reached its centenary.

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Entrance arcade.
Entrance arcade.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

What you may not know is that the centenary was last year.

Because this isn’t a post about Grand Central Terminal. It’s about the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building at East 180th Street and Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, built in 1912. The railroad went out of business in 1937, but its distinctive home serves as the entrance to the East 180th Street station for No. 2 and No. 5 trains.

And it received a kind of 100th birthday gift last year: a $66.6 million renovation by New York City Transit.

“It’s not often that we get the opportunity to do work at a facility that has the historical and architectural significance of the East 180th Street station,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, the arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that is in charge of the city’s subways and buses. “There was a collective effort to achieve the objective, to restore it to historical significance.”

The collective effort was led by Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects, which designed the renovation in association with Weidlinger Associates. “We thought of the restoration of this major historic landmark as a significant gesture of respect to the Bronx,” he said. “It is the only New York City subway station that is entered through a formal, landscaped plaza and free-standing National Register building.”

Such a building posed many challenges, Mr. Prendergast said, including finding workers skilled enough to restore stucco walls and clay roof tiles, the kind of workers who predominated when private railroads had the money and incentive to build public spaces well.

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The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building in the Bronx now serves as the East 180th Street station on the No. 2 and No. 5 lines.
The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building in the Bronx now serves as the East 180th Street station on the No. 2 and No. 5 lines.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

Money was indeed abundant on the New York, Westchester & Boston, which was controlled by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, which was effectively controlled by J. P. Morgan. The Westchester had a Y-shaped route system. Its west fork ran as far as White Plains, its east fork as far as Port Chester. (Despite the name, it never went close to Boston.) The main stem was in the Bronx, terminating at East 132nd Street, with a connection to the Third Avenue el.

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Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

Extravagant sums were spent on construction: about $36 million for a 20-mile line. The idea was to carry commuters in almost deluxe comfort aboard all-electric coaches traveling on carpet-smooth track beds, with no grade crossings, as far as the Bronx, where they would then pay only a nickel to complete their journey to work on the el. Underscoring its commitment to quality, the railroad hired Alfred T. Fellheimer, an architect who also worked on Grand Central Terminal as a partner in Reed & Stem, to design its four-story administration building. It resembles an Italian villa.

“Given a choice between Grand Central and a higher fare or the Bronx terminal and a lower fare, passengers by the thousands were expected to switch to the Westchester,” Stan Fischler wrote in “Uptown, Downtown: A Trip Through Time on New York’s Subways” (1976). It was also expected that the seemingly inexorable uptown march of commerce would reach the Bronx, placing the railroad’s handsome administration building near the heart of the city, rather than on the outskirts.

Neither vision materialized. The Westchester, which began running in 1912, never turned a profit. It was one of the first holdings to be liquidated when the New Haven filed for bankruptcy in 1935. Service on the line ended two years later.

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The lobby has two retail areas, including one at right.
The lobby has two retail areas, including one at right.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

But the ghosts of the Westchester endure, most prominently in the administration building and in the 4.25-mile right-of-way from East 180th Street to Dyre Avenue in the Bronx, which was acquired by the city in 1940 to serve as the Dyre Avenue line.

The building’s old upstairs offices are still used for railroad purposes, now by employees of the transit agency’s rapid transit operations, signals and structures divisions. Two attractive retail spaces with plate-glass fronts flank the ground-floor lobby. One is to be occupied this year. The transportation authority will issue a request for proposals for the other space.

The general contractor for the renovation was Citnalta Construction Corporation. The plaza was redesigned by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. The Arts for Transit program commissioned work by Luisa Caldwell.

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The newly renovated passage between the railroad building and the subway platform.
The newly renovated passage between the railroad building and the subway platform.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

The project included rehabilitation of the existing building, reconfiguring the plaza to include a ramp, installing an elevator, improving pedestrian circulation and reconstructing a dank passageway between the administration building and the passenger platforms into an inviting, light-filled corridor.

What the project did not include — at first —  was a clock under the figure of Mercury, where one had once been. No money was budgeted for this extra touch. But then Michael Gargiulo, the president of Citnalta, visited the site. “He didn’t think it looked right without a clock,” said Matthew Blitch, the vice president of the company.

The contractors learned that they could buy a 45-inch diameter clock with Roman numerals from the Electric Time Company of Medfield, Mass., for $8,000. That cost, and the labor to install it, were Citnalta’s extra contribution to the project. “It adds so much to the facade of the building,” Mr. Blitch said. Whether it adds to or subtracts from straphangers’ anxiety is another matter entirely.

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The new mosaic murals in the station are by Luisa Caldwell.
The new mosaic murals in the station are by Luisa Caldwell.Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times