MTA debuts new elevators at Midtown subway station, 10 years after they were approved

·2 min read

The MTA opened new wheelchair-accessible subway elevators Tuesday at a Midtown subway stop, a decade after money was first allocated for their construction.

The new lifts at the busy W. 57th St. station at Seventh Ave. on the N, Q, R and W lines are the latest in what transit officials said is a renewed push to make the city’s transit system more accessible after the pandemic forced a halt to many construction projects.

“Nothing is more important for the MTA and our city’s future and our mass transit’s future than our commitment to ADA accessibility,” said MTA chief development officer Janno Lieber. He hailed “the completion of this project on budget and ahead of schedule.”

The W. 57th St. station was one of dozens the MTA agreed to make accessible as part of a settlement reached in the 1990s after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Transit officials in 2010 announced the project would be paid for through the agency’s 2010-2014 capital plan.

The work, which cost $84 million, goes much further than adding elevators to the station’s mezzanines and platforms.

The job required the construction of new stairways and the relocation of water mains and gas lines. The project also includes redesigns to the station’s platforms and communications systems.

Roughly 60% of the city’s subway stations remain inaccessible by people in wheelchairs.

The MTA in 2019 announced plans to allocate $5.7 billion for the construction of elevators or ramps at 66 more stations through its $51.5 billion capital plan — but most of those projects were delayed after the COVID-19 pandemic began to hammer the agency’s finances last year.

MTA officials said they’ve so far moved forward with contracts to make nine of those stations accessible — and working to catch-up on the aggressive ADA plans after the agency was allocated $14.5 billion in pandemic relief from the federal government since last March.

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