86th Street rehab back on track

The plaintive wails of this blues guitarist echo off the sad walls of the 86th Street subway station.
The Brooklyn Paper / Craig Dilger

The 86th Street R train station will get a new staircase, safer and wider entrances, a nifty new tile job and a fresh coat of paint, thanks to $7 million in transit funding secured by local officials.

Braving the coldest day of the year last week, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Bay Ridge) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) journeyed to the station to celebrate their role in securing the cash.

“I am proud to have made good on my promise to … make much-needed repairs and enhancements [to the station],” said Fossella.

At the 90-year-old station, R-train riders currently experience conditions ranging from unappealing — broken wall and floor tiles and chipped paint on the stairs — to dangerous — the slip-preventing tread on staircases has deteriorated and a section of the staircase is crumbling.

The long-overdue makeover includes a new staircase at the southwest corner of Fourth Avenue at 86th Street, plus the replacement of the worn tread, broken tiles, and a new paint job for the risers.

“It’s pretty gross in here — especially compared to some of the stations in Manhattan,” said commuter Rachel Drupaul. “I always wondered why some stations got the cash over the others.”

Fossella said he locked in $6.68 million in federal cash, while Golden said he secured $2 million in Albany. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will contribute the remaining $6 million to rebuild the station.

The repair work will begin next year and be completed by spring, 2010, the MTA said.

The station is in the top-third of busiest stations in the New York City and is the 24th busiest of Brooklyn’s 139 stations.

Securing funds was an item on Fossella’s to-do list for years — but even though the announcement was years in the making, the pols kept it short, owing to the blustery conditions (among other things).

“This is the coldest day we’ve had here in two years,” a bundled-up Golden said with a laugh. “And I have a children’s pizza party to get to, so let’s get this moving along.”

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