Major ADA Upgrades Planned at Two UWS Subway Stations

ada upgrades upper west side subways

jim.henderson, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Alberto Roldan and Kana Ervin, representatives from the MTA, met virtually with Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee on Tuesday to discuss upcoming work at two Upper West Side stations.

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Accessibility upgrades – including the installation of elevators and ADA-compliant staircases – are being planned at the West 81st Street B/C and West 96th Street A/B/C subway stations on Central Park West.

These upgrades are part of a project called ADA Package 5 — Design-Build services for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – which covers improvements at thirteen stations across the five boroughs. A design contract worth $577.2 million was awarded to Judlau Contracting, Inc., a subsidiary of OHLA.

“Just to give you some reference, this capital plan has nearly five times the number of ADA commitments than the previous capital plan, so we’re really ramping up here,” said Ervin.

At West 81st Street, the MTA plans to add a three-stop elevator providing access between the street and platforms; a new ADA-compliant street-to-platform staircase; and an ADA-compliant raised boarding area with “platform edge tactile strips.”

The lower platform track will be replaced, station lighting will be improved, and, Ervin says, “Whenever we create elevators where there aren’t any at the station, we have to upgrade power, so we’re going to be doing some power upgrades.”

Some of the station’s artwork will be removed to make room for the elevator. “All the mosaic work will be either preserved or replaced in kind.”

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During the first phase of construction, southbound traffic on Central Park West will be reduced to one lane to accommodate the elevator staging area.

The MTA is currently coordinating with local utilities, the Department of Transportation and other agencies, and while the timeline is a moving target, they are expecting to begin demolition and excavation at some point next month. The project at 81st Street is slated for a 2026 completion.

Most construction will take place during regular DOT approved hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but “whenever evening work is required to reduce traffic impacts, we will notify the community well in advance,” reads a DOT presentation.

During elevator construction, the entrance on the south west corner of 81st and Central Park West will be closed; the entrance on the north west corner will remain open throughout the duration of the project.

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The 96th Street station will also be getting a three-stop elevator connecting the street with the platforms, while its existing stairs will be refurbished. A new, ADA-compliant raised boarding area will also be installed, and the lower level track will be replaced. New pedestrian ramps and signage will go in as well.

They’re also going to be “bumping out the curb” where the elevator will be landing on the street level, which will result in the loss of one or two parking spots.

MTA

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The elevator staging area will be on the south west corner of 97th Street, west of Central Park West. During the first of two construction phases, which is expected to last a couple months, while both lanes of traffic on this street will be open, the right lane will be temporarily running through an existing parking lane.

Station access will be maintained throughout construction, though there will be temporary stair closures during refurbishment. Some evening work will be required “to minimize impact to rush hour traffic,” at which time the MTA says it will notify the community.

The timeline for this station is about the same, with the project slated to be complete at some point in 2026.


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