Start to subway station rehab

Work has begun at last on the $13.5 million renovation of the 86th Street station on the R line.

The 24-month project — financed by allocations from State Senator Marty Golden and former Representative Vito Fossella, as well as by MTA capital improvement funds — commenced earlier this month as Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers began surveying the station, which will be waterproofed and re-tiled. It had originally been slated to start in April 2009.

The project was described by Talib Lokhandwala, construction administrator of the station’s division of the MTA’s capital project management division, during the January meeting of Community Board 10’s Traffic & Transportation Committee.

Lokhandwala told committee members, gathered at the board office, 8119 Fifth Avenue, that new tiles will be installed on walls throughout the station’s platform level. In addition, new gratings will be installed at street level and cracks will be repaired as part of the effort to waterproof the bedraggled station, which has been in a state of disrepair for decades.

“It’s looked like a dungeon for about 40 years,” complained board member George Prezioso.

An elevator will not be part of the project, said Melissa Farley, who is in the MTA’s government and community relations division. “That’s a future project,” Farley told board member Jean Ryan, who uses a wheelchair, and who remarked, “I’d just like to get down there to ride.”

Nothing will be done on the mezzanine level either, Farley said in response to questions from board members. “We don’t have the money now to do the rest of the station,” she explained.

As far as the work being done on the track level, the logistics for moving passengers are still being worked out, said Farley. One possibility, she told board members, is that the station would be closed on some weekends, with shuttle buses run on part of the route to make up for the lack of trains.

Another possibility, now being explored, is that trains would run on one track only with headways of about 20 minutes, said Farley.

“We are trying not to run a bus,” she stressed, noting that shuttle buses were “much more expensive” as an option.

Over the years, the heavily utilized station, has been a nexus of complaints, not surprisingly as it is used by 9,600 commuters on a daily basis.

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