The First Avenue L train station in Manhattan has a second new entrance on Avenue A, which the MTA opened on Monday. The station is still not handicap accessible, but the MTA says they're working on it and expect to open new elevators in June.
At a press conference to officially open the new entrance, which leads to and from the 8th Avenue-bound L platform, Councilmember Carlina Rivera underscored the importance of the new staircase.
“Before these stairs were open, if you were here at rush hour, it was actually kind of scary, it was really packed, hundreds and hundreds of people at a time, and now there will be continuous flows,” Rivera said.
The new entrance follows the November opening of another entrance to the Brooklyn-bound L platform across the street, at the southwest corner of Avenue A and 14th Street. Until last year, the only entrances to the station were located a long block west at First Avenue.
East Village resident Ashley Miller, 35, was one of many commuters delighted by the new entrance. “I've been waiting for this to open for a year, it's like a gift that it’s opened. I live in Alphabet City and First Avenue is so much further, which makes a really big difference,” Miller said.
According to the MTA, the First Avenue L station has seen an increase in ridership by approximately 60% since 2000, necessitating the renovations, which were carried out as part of the larger repair project to the East River L train tunnel, which sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Sandy.
“The original budget was approximately $924 million, and we’re currently trending up to $850 million,” MTA Vice President of Transit & Rail Shawn Kildare said, referring to the entire L train tunnel rehabilitation plan, which the MTA expects to be finished in April, ahead of schedule. Trust them?
Work continues at the station in tandem with the tunnel rehabilitation. Now that both new entrances are open at Avenue A, the MTA plans to close the First Avenue 8th Avenue-bound entrance for reconstruction on February 15th. The Brooklyn-bound entrance at First Avenue is also closed as the MTA upgrades the station, adding new tiles, energy-efficient lighting, new turnstiles, and a bigger “fare control area.”
The MTA is also building two platform-to-street ADA elevators, one on either side of 14th Street near Avenue A, as well as a new substation near Avenue B to power more trains along the L line.
According to officials, the station’s elevators are on track to be fully installed for use sometime this summer.