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Longtime subway desert Hell’s Kitchen could finally get a lifeline, as local politicians gathered to demand that the MTA add a 7 train extension project into its next capital plan.
Eight years after the implementation of a 7 train extension in Hudson Yards at W34th Street and 11th Avenue, the original plan to build a second stop at W41st Street and 10th Avenue — abandoned for lack of funding – has been revived, with City Council Member Erik Bottcher and West Side officials holding a press conference Tuesday to urge the MTA and state leadership to reconsider the project for immediate installation.
“The timing is right,” said Council Member Bottcher, highlighting that the West Side has seen both a recent commercial boon and significant population growth – nearly 30 percent over the past 10 years – meriting the need for expanded transit options.
“Ten of thousands of residents have moved into this neighborhood,” said Bottcher. “We’ve seen explosive business growth on the West Side – and still today, there is no train station west of 8th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. We’ve had seniors at Manhattan Plaza and elsewhere having to travel long distances to the train. We have residents on the far west end of 42nd Street who have to take shuttles to the train. But we are here, saying today: ‘No more delays, no more excuses, build this train now!’”
Added State Senator Brad Hoylman of the abandoned train proposal: “It was a bait and switch,” gesturing to the many residential skyscrapers of West of 10th Avenue. “The community agreed to a massive development, and we got one station, but we didn’t get the second one that was promised. We already know that residents will benefit, we know that our business improvement district will benefit, we know that small businesses will benefit – we know that tourists are the economic engine of this neighborhood.” He added that the campaign to put the project into motion had been in play for years.
“No more bait and switch, no more delays — the time is now to take advantage of this infrastructure opportunity that sits below us today and make transit a reality on 10th Avenue. We demand that Governor Hochul put the 7 train into the MTA Capital plan this year!”
The potential extension has already been added into the MTA’s 20 Year Needs Assessment but West Side officials, Community Board 4 and the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Business Improvement District have sent a letter to Governor Hochul and MTA Chair Janno Lieber urging the agency to study the site as a part of their upcoming capital plan. If implemented, the MTA would conduct an evaluation of the potential station between now and October 2023 before presenting their findings for further review and potential funding.
“I have proudly sounded the alarm about the importance of building a station at 41st Street and 10th Avenue for nearly two decades,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “The MTA can’t afford to miss out on federal funding I worked hard to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. This is the perfecrt shovel-ready project, and I urge the MTA to green light the station quickly to help this neighborhood so desperately in need of transit access.”
For those who would sit at the edge of the MTA’s shovel, the potential expansion was a more complicated possibility. Jessica Winstanley, co-owner of Nicol Squash – located at the site of the proposed station – told W42ST that she was “on the fence” about the project, acknowledging both the prospective boon in business along with the threat of being uprooted.
“I think it could be really incredible to have a station built here,” said Winstanley, who added that it would help fulfill the family-owned business’s mission of making squash more accessible and inclusive: “We have people who come from all over the world, and this would make it so much easier to get to us, but it is a little terrifying to think that we could be kicked out.” She added that it took them years to find a space large enough to accommodate their needs as a sporting facility and they are deeply invested in the Hell’s Kitchen community. “If we get kicked out, then it’s another small, family-owned business down the drain.”
Nicol Squash is zoned as an MTA easement space, meaning that it has been reserved for potential transit use by the agency. As of now, Winstanley said, they had not been informed by the landlord of any specifics regarding the proposed station. W42ST reached out to property management company Related for comment and will update if we hear back.
While a ground-breaking could be years away, officials at Tuesday’s press conference stressed that public pressure through petitions as well as buy-in from city and state leadership could push the timeline to a more reasonable clip.
Retiring New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried recalled that a decade ago, “in a short-sighted blunder, the then-governor and then-mayor and head of the MTA decided not to build,” but he added: “We have a new governor and a new mayor and a new head of the MTA – it’s time to move this station up a couple of notches and get it done.”
Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who shares the area with Gottfried (and his prospective successor Tony Simone), also emphasized the environmental urgency of the build out. “The EPA has been stripped of its ability to regulate emissions – it’s up to us on the state and local levels, and of course, Congress, to make sure our neighborhoods are cleaner and off fossil fuel, and that we have more environmentally friendly ways of getting around,” she said, adding, “Infrastructure is sexy!” Riders Alliance Communication Director Danny Pearlstein additionally noted, “Public transit is the lifeblood of the city — our future relies on it, and few neighborhoods demonstrate the importance of transit more than Hell’s Kitchen.”
Borough President Mark Levine – echoing his comments regarding the potentially expanded bike lane on the West Side Highway – reiterated the need for transit alternatives as congestion pricing comes into effect. “It can’t just be the stick of charging a fee,” said Levine. “It’s got to be about the carrot of improving mass transit options, and making it easier and more reliable and more accessible for people not to take a trip in a private automobile.”
Citing skepticism over the city’s potential to build a train extension faster than, say, the Second Avenue Subway, Levine argued: “I want to say something to the naysayers out there – the city of Paris is in the middle of a 14-year project, building 68 stations in their Metro. That’s almost five stations a year. London just opened a new line – it’s 62 miles long and has 10 new stations. Can you imagine New York City doing that? There is no excuse for the fact that New York City, in the last almost three-and-a-half decades, has built four subway stations. We are barely building one station a decade, and it’s inexcusable. But if we’re going to only build one station this year, I cannot think of any location in New York City more compelling than this one right here.”