Straphangers packed onto an overcrowded Sunset Park subway platform will soon have a new way out.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is re-opening a long-shuttered entrance on a busy N train station at the behest of area residents and local politicians.
The Authority sent a letter to Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurst) on June 24 pledging to reopen the Seventh Avenue entrance of the line’s Eighth Avenue station as part of a station renewal project along the N line.
The station, which currently has only one staircase to street level from either side of the tracks, is a potential deathtrap, according to area straphangers.
“If there was an emergency, everyone would crash into one another,” said resident Kyle Han. “I’m worried someone could fall onto the tracks.”
The platform overflows with people during peak hours, but also during off times like Sunday mornings, and riders on the back of the train have to wade a full city block along the platform though dense crowds to exit at Eighth Avenue, said John Chan, chairman of Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment, an immigrant assistance organization.
The Authority closed the crumbling Seventh Avenue entrance more than 15 years ago, when ridership was scant. It remained shuttered — despite a local population boom — partly because Asian immigrants to the area lacked a unified voice, said one man who has worked in the area for two decades.
“The last time this entrance was open was when this was ‘Little Scandinavia,’ ” said Nick Debord. “New immigrants had no political clout to get it repaired.”
While the entrance sat fallow, ridership at the station grew. More than 3.67 million people swiped in at the station in 2013, compared to 3.2 million in 2008 — the latest year such data is available from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
When station renewal is complete, area residents will have two entrances on both the Coney Island- and Manhattan-bound tracks, and less mobile locals will a handicap-accessible entrance, according to the Authority’s letter to Abbate.
“It will be more accommodating for seniors,” area resident Xiu Lan Chan, 71, said through a translator. “It will be easier to go shopping.”
The Authority will reconstruct the Seventh Avenue entrance, but first it has to find a place for machinery currently housed in the defunct station house, the letter states.
The station rehabilitation project along the length of the line is expected to take four years, with the first phase of work stretching from the Eight Avenue station to Kings Highway.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not have a timetable for completing work at the Eight Avenue station, but Abbate said he hopes to see the new entrances open by next summer.
“This is the first station [in the project], so hopefully it will be done in a year,” he said.