Some of Council Member Erik Bottcher’s Hell’s Kitchen constituents walk not five or 10, but 15 or 20 minutes to get to their nearest subway stop. That could change if the MTA returns to the lost, but far from forgotten, project of constructing a Flushing Line station at West 41st Street and Tenth Avenue.
“The timing is right — the timing was right ten years ago,” Bottcher said during a Tuesday afternoon rally at the intersection above where the station would be built. He was joined by politicians including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Members Dick Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal.
In 2005, an expansion of the 7 line to Hudson Yards was slated to include the additional stop. But ten years later, only the Hudson Yards subway station was up and running; the West 41st Street stop was “scrapped at the last minute,” as Bottcher put it, to save pennies. Now, it’s included in the MTA’s 2025-2044 20-Year Needs Assessment, a roadmap of pivotal projects in the city that could get the green light.
Proponents say New Yorkers are ready for it now. “Infrastructure is sexy again,” Rosenthal said.
Before the half-baked completion of the Hudson Yards expansion project, Flushing Local and Express trains only went as far west as Times Square, with the other endpoint at Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. Construction rang in at $2.4 billion, the New York Times reported in 2015.
“It was a bait-and-switch,” Hoylman said. “We got one station, but we didn’t get the second that we were promised.”
One benefit did come from the construction beneath New Yorkers’ feet: an opportunity for the project to be picked up again, with speed. “Much of the engineering work was done in a way to allow for two stops,” Levine told Chelsea News. “It’s not starting from scratch.”
But the city’s been slow to act, despite pleas from locals and politicians. “I have sounded the alarm about the importance of building this station for nearly two decades,” Nadler said.
Time To “Get It Done”
Now, a recent changing of the guard could bode well for a different landscape in Hell’s Kitchen. “We have a new governor, a new mayor, we have a new head of the MTA,” Gottfried said, before stressing it’s high time to “get it done.”
Local politicians argue it’s the perfect location for an added subway station. The Hudson River-adjacent neighborhood already has plenty of businesses, attractions for tourists and a high density of residents. “We’ve seen explosive population growth on the West Side,” Bottcher said. “Tens of thousands of residents have moved into this neighborhood.”
Aside from the Hudson Yards stop, no subway stations currently exist farther west in Hell’s Kitchen than the 7 stop at Eighth Avenue, as Bottcher drew attention to on Tuesday. A West 41st Street and Tenth Avenue stop would change that.
Making it onto the MTA’s 20-Year Needs Assessment list of projects doesn’t guarantee, however, that the desired West 41st Street subway stop will be built anytime soon. The 2025-2044 Needs Assessment list is used to craft the 2025-2029 Capital Program, which allocates concrete funding. The assessment process “will examine the benefits related to proposed projects, such as potential ridership, travel time, contributions to network capacity, resiliency, and equity,” according to the MTA.
A Public Transit Future
One initiative on the horizon might intersect with that equation, local politicians suggested on Tuesday. Congestion pricing, anticipated to go into effect in late 2023, will produce funds that could go toward MTA projects, like the construction of an additional 7 line subway stop.
And it will necessitate an attention shift toward public transit, according to Levine. “Congestion pricing also must be matched by improvements in mass transit options,” he said, “to make it easier for people to opt to leave the car at home.”
Standing at the noisy Hell’s Kitchen intersection, he estimated that thousands of car trips could be avoided if a subway station is built below the concrete. In environmental terms, less cars would mean less pollution, according to Rosenthal.
For resident Yadira Jimenez, whose walk to the nearest existing subway stop is far longer than desirable, the issue is a simple one. “Time is money,” she said. And the lack of a nearby stop seems to be costing locals more than they can bear.
“The timing is right — the timing was right ten years ago.” Council Member Erik Bottcher