Local politicians and activists renewed calls to update the station this past week. Led by State Senator Biran Kavanaugh, the rally highlighted the high potential for fires and flooding in the station as hurricanes and other weather events become more frequent.
“This is a station that was built in a very different time when the patterns of use were very different,” Kavanaugh said. “There is only one very narrow entrance. If you go to the other side of the platform, there’s a sign saying there is an emergency exit somewhere but that is only accessible by emergency personnel. We understand that the agencies are busy, but this is unacceptable and the MTA must act.”
Kavanaugh and his allies believed they had made a breakthrough earlier this year when the MTA agreed to conduct an engineering study of the station, yet no such study has been released since. The politicians requested that the MTA renew their commitment to conducting the proper research and to quickly submitting proposals for updating the station
In addition to growing concerns about flooding and fires, the York Street Station has historically been criticized for its overcrowding and lack of handicap accessibility.
“We have been having greater conversations about the lack of accessibility for wheelchair users in our subway system, and this station is surely an example of that,” explained State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “It’s a very deep station, and if something goes wrong down there it could be a very dangerous situation. It is not just about convenience, but also safety as the area’s population increases.”
Community members present at the rally similarly spoke about the increasing population of the area. Mallory Kasdan, Co-Founder of DUMBO Action Committee (DAC), specifically highlighted new developments and called for the City to include subway renovations as a component of these large projects.
“Earlier this year, DAC worked with neighboring groups to extract community concessions for 69 Adams,” Kasdan said. “We expect that the MTA will hold up their end of this deal, now overdue, to study the possibilities for a second entrance and thereafter make the needed safety improvements.”
Representatives from Borough President Eric Adams’ and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez’s offices were also present and supportive of station renovations.
“The residents of DUMBO, Farragut Houses, and Vinegar Hill have repeatedly called on the MTA to address New York street stemming from the fact that the station only has one entrance,” Borough President Adams wrote in a statement. “These conditions have been exacerbated by the boom of development in the neighborhood as well as the area’s growing reputation as a tourist hub.”
In her own statement, Congresswoman Velázquez writes that “infrastructure projects such as these are how we should be building back better.
A number of other leaders were also present, including North Brooklyn Council Member Steve Levin and his likely successor Lincoln Restler.
“This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” said Restler, who is the Democratic Nominee for City Council in DUMBO. “This was a very different neighborhood 20 years ago when I was a kid; very few people lived here. Now it is growing, but this subway station is preventing the area from reaching its full potential. It is also unbelievably dangerous.”
Although the MTA is yet to conduct an engineering study of York Street, the station is currently experiencing service changes as a part of the Rutgers Tube Rehabilitation. This project is adding new signaling technology, upgraded interlocking systems, and other station amenities to 12 stops along the F and G lines, replacing the nearly century-old equipment that is now in use. Service changes are expected to be in effect until the end of October.
When asked if the Rehabilitation Project caused the York Street engineering study to be delayed, Kavanaugh said that the MTA has not provided any updates.
“We understand that it might be an engineering problem, but that is why we need a study,” Kavanaugh said.
The MTA is yet to respond to our paper’s request for more information on the York Street engineering study and its potential relationship with the Rutgers Tube Rehabilitation.