Mayor Bloomberg took the official maiden voyage on the 7 train extension today, riding with other officials to the line's new station at Hudson Yards. The new rails, which open to the public this summer, will provide the transit options desperately needed to fulfill Bloomberg's vision for the massive Yards' development.
The new station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue isn't ready for commuters yet — the subway platforms are 10 stories underground, and builders have yet to install elevators. But when the station becomes more rider-friendly, it will help bring an end to the transit deadzone in Manhattan's Far West Side. Currently the area is only served by the A, C, and E lines on 8th Avenue, a considerable distance from the developing districts along the waterfront. By extending the 7 line from its current terminal in Times Square, officials expect to bring a starting weekday ridership of 27,000 through the new station, said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction.
Mass transit access to the Hudson Yards is crucial to the area's development; the Bloomberg administration has approved the area for over 40 million square feet of development, including 1 million square feet of retail and 13,500 new apartments. "Lots of residential on the waterside," Bloomberg said, likening the Hudson Yards developments to those in Brooklyn. "We were in Williamsburg yesterday. It used to be an industrial street with warehouses; now there's a juice bar and an exercise gym." (But no vegan restaurant!)
The extended line is the city's first subway extension since 1950, when the Jamaica-179th Street station was added to the Queens Boulevard line. The construction crew celebrated this historic development by bestowing Bloomberg with a commemorative rock from the construction site.