on track

MTA Digs Up More Money to Study Utica Ave. Subway Extension

Utica Ave. is the Brooklyn terminal for the No. 4 line, but the MTA is looking into a possible extension.
Utica Ave. is the Brooklyn terminal for the No. 4 line, but the MTA is looking into a possible extension. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

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The MTA plans to put up another $5 million to examine extending subway service down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn — offering a sliver of hope to some train-starved neighborhoods.

The ongoing study — based on a century-old idea — didn’t earn so much as a mention when transit officials first outlined the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Program earlier this week.

But a copy of the next proposed five-year spending plan for big-ticket transit items, released Thursday, shows the $51.5 billion plan now includes an extra $5 million for the Utica Avenue Transit Improvements Study, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has touted.

MTA Mum a Day Before

When asked Wednesday by THE CITY about the status of the feasibility study, an MTA spokesperson didn’t have anything to say about the project.

The first phase of the study, which began earlier this year with another $5 million allocated in 2015, involved surveying local residents to help shape ridership projections.

The study area for Utica Avenue extension. Photo: MTA

The analysis, which faces a February deadline, is officially listed as “0%” complete on the agency’s online Capital Program Dashboard.

“As more details are released, there will be additional clarification relating to the Utica extension,” said the spokesperson, Andrei Berman.

The money to stretch the Utica Avenue study represents a small fraction of the proposed capital improvement plan, which, at $51.5 billion, is the largest in MTA history.

MTA officials want to buy 1,900 new subway cars and 2,400 new buses, and extend the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street. The plan also targets making 70 more transit stations accessible to riders with disabilities — including four paid for in the current capital plan.

On Thursday, the MTA put out a list of the 48 subway and Staten Island Railway stations being eyed for elevators or ramps. The rest of the stops due accessibility upgrades should be announced before the plan is approved in Albany.

But the capital plan likely faces a funding fight, with the state-run MTA counting on a $3 billion infusion from City Hall.

“This is a brand new and rather sprawling plan,” de Blasio told reporters Wednesday. “I, and my team need to analyze it, our members of the MTA board need to analyze it.”

City Hall revived the long-dormant Utica Avenue plan in 2015. The study is looking at ways to improve transit service along a corridor that is home to the B46, the third-busiest bus route in the city.

Some long-range options include extending the subway south from either the Utica Avenue stop on the A/C lines or the Utica Avenue 3/4 train stop on Eastern Parkway. A light rail line and faster buses are also on the table.

The potential for either an underground or elevated subway extension left some commuters looking optimistically into the very distant future.

“The lines are so long to get onto one bus, so a subway would be so much better,” said Jennifer James, 63, who was at the Utica Avenue stop on the No. 3 and No. 4 lines. “I do think it will eventually become a reality, just not in my lifetime.”

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