The Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled two shiny new elevators at the Bedford Avenue station in Williamsburg on Monday, and agency officials renewed calls for federal cash as they stare down the worst financial crisis in the agency’s history.
The elevators were installed along with a number of improvements to the station, including new staircases from the street level to the mezzanine that double the stair capacity at the Driggs Avenue-end of the station, and additional turnstiles.
“This is a station that had become more and more crowded, the entrances and exits were narrow, it was darker and it was a difficult station to use,” State Sen. Brian Kavanaugh said at an Oct. 19 press conference. “It is wonderful to see this project complete.”
The station upgrades coincided with the larger-scale Canarsie Tunnel rehab project in order to maximize improvements during the repair process, according to the authority. The elevators’ unveiling marks the official end of the L Train project, which was completed ahead of schedule sans a full shutdown of service in the tunnel as originally planned, according to MTA officials.
The agency initially intended to award contracts to make 29 stations in the notoriously inaccessible transit system compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the enormous budget shortfall caused by a plummet in ridership due to the coronavirus pandemic has left only 15 stations with bids, according to Janno Lieber, the agency’s head of construction and development.
Lieber warned that other projects like the Bedford Avenue upgrades will be put on hold indefinitely if the federal government does not come through with the $12 billion needed to keep the agency moving forward.
“The critically important work of making more stations ADA compliant can’t be achieved if the planned funding is cut,” he said. “Many stations won’t be able to go forward if the federal government doesn’t finally step up.”