Stair-weary straphangers in Park Slope are finally getting a long-awaited elevator, as construction has begun on a lift to the Seventh Avenue subway station.
“What comes down into the subway, must come up” read protesters’ signs, as Park Slope neighbors gathered outside the F and G station in 2018 to demand an elevator. Now, construction is starting at the corner of Ninth Street — taking over one lane of parking spaces, while leaving the bike lane clear and causing minor traffic disruptions.
The project entails building three elevators — two from the street on Seventh Avenue, and one from the mezzanine that takes passengers to the platform. Construction will be complete by July 2023, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.
The MTA announced the pending construction of the lifts last year, which came after 10 years of community advocates battling city authorities for an inclusive way to access the station — which is the closest to Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and Park Slope Center for Successful Aging, which serves more than 4,000 seniors each year.
Only about 25 percent of the 493 stations across the five boroughs have elevators. Community members with mobility difficulties, walking disabilities, and those who travel with strollers or carts have to plan their commute accordingly, and choose less practical routes.
Community activist groups, including Good Neighbors of Park Slope and members of the older adult center Heights and Hills, rallied at council and MTA board meetings until a three elevator shafts plan was approved in December 2020.
“We were told it was going to take way longer than that,” said Joyce Jed, president of Good Neighbors of Park Slope, when she heard the elevator would be ready next summer.
The project was on a list of 50 stations waiting for accessibility upgrades. The MTA has set a 2024 goal of having an accessible station every two stops, which would guarantee that mobility-impaired individuals could have access to the necessary infrastructure within a certain geographic area of their destination.
The funding for the multi-million-dollar lift will come from the $4 billion the MTA received as part of the second COVID-19 federal stimulus deal reached in Congress in Dec. 2020 and a $250,000 dollars down payment from the Participatory Budgeting process.
The project is still fully funded regardless of the MTA’s latest financial struggle, which was caused by a decrease in ridership since the beginning of the pandemic.
So far, Hallen Construction, the contractor company working on the project, has performed demolitions inside the station and excavation outside. National Grid, the British multinational electricity and gas company, will relocate utilities this week. Asbestos abatement for all four platform edges is now complete.
Some Park Slope neighbors say the construction work is inconvenient because of the clutter and the difficulties for trash picking that it is causing — though they support the project.
“It has made parking much more difficult on this block and the next because they are turned up,” said Andy Ryan, who lives in a brownstone right in front of the site. “We kind of have to suck it up because it’s part of living in the city and people need to ride the subway, so it doesn’t bother me.”
To plan an accessible commute, visit new.mta.info.