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Smith and Ninth to go into ‘rehab’

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New details emerged about the closing of the Smith and Ninth subway station in 2010, including a promise by transit officials that the beleaguered station will get “a complete rehabilita­tion” to fix the crumbling platforms, leaky roof and dimly lit staircases.

Two weeks ago, riders were stunned at the news that the station would close for nine months, starting in February, 2010, as part of long-overdue track work on the elevated portion of the F-train between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

But now riders are being told that the station itself will get a top-to-bottom overhaul during the track work, which will last from 2009 to 2012, said NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton.

“They’re doing repairs because that structure is over 70 years old,” said Seaton.

And when they’re done, the distressed station will be a gleaming hub to accompany the panoramic view of the Statue of Liberty.

Losing the station to get the repairs is a tradeoff some riders can accept.

“That’s the only solution,” said Christian Steinbach, who has learned to take the good with the bad at Smith–Ninth.

“It’s quite pleasant to have the view. That’s the advantage, but in the winter it gets very cold.”

The MTA might be primarily concerned about the physical integrity and aesthetic appearance of Smith–Ninth, but locals have grand designs they would like to see incorporated in the project.

For instance, the Holy Grail of frustrated F-train riders is an F express. But that train can’t exist until the viaduct work is finished, Seaton said.

Others think that the station itself could be a destination, rather than merely the beginning or end of a common commute. The Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation suggests foisting a restaurant on top of city’s highest subway platform.

“Obviously, you have some pretty remarkable views up there,” said Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the GCCDC. Zuckerman will mention the restaurant idea to the MTA at the upcoming Community Board 6 meeting on Nov. 15 about its big project for the F-line.

The MTA is sure to hear complaints from Red Hook and Carroll Gardens riders at the CB6 meeting about the inconvenience it is going to cause them. To lessen this disruption, shuttle bus service will run between the Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue stations, which will stay open for the duration of the renovations on the elevated track, known as the Culver Viaduct to transit buffs.

One piece of good news is for G-train riders, whose train will make all stops between Smith–Ninth, where it currently terminates, and Church Avenue because the viaduct work will make it impossible for the G to turn around between Smith-Ninth and Fourth Avenue.

The public will be briefed by MTA officials at a Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting on Nov. 15 at 250 Baltic St. (between Court and Clinton streets). Call (718) 643-3027 for info.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Joe from Gowanus says:
Spending millions to renovate an 88-ft high subway station (Smith-9th) without including an elevator to comply with the American Disabilities Act would be considered an unaceptable allocation of tax dollars but the MTA feels it's ok for the low income, minority comminities of Gowanus and Red Hook. Shame on you MTA and CB6!
Jan. 5, 2011, 2 pm

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