N train riders at nine stations in Brooklyn have endured commuting headaches for more than three years — and not just while riding the train.
On Monday, full service was finally restored, as Coney Island-bound trains returned to four stations where platforms had been closed since July 2017. The final phase of the project ended more than six months past deadline.
“It feels like it’s been a lot longer,” said Austin Reed, 23, as he stepped off an N train at the 18th Avenue stop in Bensonhurst. “But I know at this point I shouldn’t expect anything from the MTA.”
The reopening of Coney Island-bound service to platforms at the Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue and 20th Avenue stops marked a belated milestone in the long-running makeover of some of the most decrepit stations in the system — a stretch known as the Sea Beach Line.
The MTA had planned to restore full service along the line by late 2018, so trains would no longer have to skip those stops. The agency blamed the delays on what a spokesperson called the “advanced deterioration” of structural steel that was discovered once the work had begun,
“Oh man, as a customer, this has been such a pain,” Balamer Bai, 30. “There’s been so much work along this line for so long. It has not been fun.”
Years of Longer Commutes
The $395.7 million makeover of the grungy Sea Beach Line started in January 2016, when renovations cut off Manhattan-bound service at several stations, forcing riders to walk to neighboring stops or double back to catch trains.
Once that phase of the project wrapped, work shifted to the opposite platforms serving more than 50,000 riders on weekdays.
“That’s being inconvenienced at least 10 minutes a day for 20 business days a month times all the months this has taken,” said Anthony Spadaro, 25, who commutes from the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop on the N. “It’s been frustrating.”
“It’s nice not having to walk that extra distance, when you’re so tired at the end of the day from being at work,” said Antonia Xiguo, 40.
The renovations at the nine Sea Beach Line stations were among 38 “station renewals” included in the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program, most of which were completed several years ago. The improvements include new staircases, lighting, paint and station art. The work will eventually include four elevators at the New Utrecht Avenue stop to aid transfers between the N and D lines.
“The stations look great, but this could have been done a lot faster,” said Carlos Marin, 41. “But for as long as this work has been going on, the stations had better look great.”
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