How Safe Is Dumbo’s York Street Subway Stop With Only One Exit?

Photo by Marcin Wichary via Wikipedia


    There’s only one way in and one way out at the York Street F train stop in Dumbo, much to the displeasure of residents in the ever-growing area.

    Opened in 1936, the York Street stop is known for its seemingly endless inclined tunnel, which leads straphangers from the single platform up to a singular entrance (and exit) at the base of a notably industrial ventilation tower on York and Jay streets. Often a traffic jam and also a potential fire hazard, the station abounds in whispers of “how is this legal,” general groans, and much anxious jogging for the train during the rush hour crush.

    “There’s just one exit at the very end of the loooooong platform,” reads one review on the station’s very own 2.5-star Yelp page.

    Why the people worry, and what they want
    The station is already insufficient to meet the current populace’s traffic needs, many argue. So how, residents wonder, can this shabby, 79-year-old antique be expected to support the additional influx of workers, residents and visitors once the area’s many developments in the pipeline are completed?

    Indeed, some say area developers should be mandated to help with much needed station upgrades. It’s possible the city will try to negotiate station improvements with the future developer of the nearby lot at 85 Jay Street — a site that could add thousands of new residents to the area.

    York Street Station

    Photo via Dumbo NYC

    Why isn’t there a second exit?
    It can feel dangerous, a fire hazard — perhaps even a terrorism hazard — and against modern standards that require stations to have a minimum of two escape routes. So why hasn’t the city built a second exit yet?

    Regulations-wise, the station’s acceptability is grandfathered-in. Full modern compliance for every station would likely mean stopping service, the MTA told NBC in a discussion of subway exits earlier this year — something the agency would rather avoid.

    Another top consideration is the cost. Building a second exit at the York Street station would be exorbitantly expensive, with transit buff Bob Diamond speculating a full renovation could cost $100 million.

    As well, the York Street stop is very deep. Digging a second entrance would likely have workers running into bedrock, sewage, and other niceties of New York’s underground.

    Five facts:

    • In 2014, on average 9,000 people used the station every weekday, an increase from 2009’s 6,000 person average, according to the MTA.
    • Police shut down the station after the area became too crowded at the popular New York Festival of Light in 2014.
    • The sales of many area lots owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses with generous air rights and development opportunities will likely lead to the influx of a thousand or more new residents to the area, which is serviced only by the York Street stop.
    • When the Witnesses received the upzoning for 85 Jay Street in 2004, the deal required them to spruce up the York Street subway stop. But this no longer appears to be in the cards.
    • The tunnel connecting York Street to East Broadway in Manhattan is called the Rutgers Street Tunnel.

    What do you think? 
    While there’s no specific protest group calling for a second exit or improvements, the neighborhood’s infrastructure needs to keep apace with its increasing popularity for tourists and a growing residential population. So, is it viable for the city to dig out a second exit? How would they fund it?

    What would a viable solution look like?

    [Source: BK Paper]

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