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A rail pain: MTA nixes station renovations

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A plan to renovate 15 deteriorating Brooklyn subway stations has been derailed by skyrocketing costs and budget shortfalls, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials announced this week.

The MTA will delay the long-scheduled and much-ballyhooed restoration of the Smith-Ninth Street F-train station in Caroll Gardens. The announcement comes less than a month after the MTA admitted that it was abandoning a plan to transform the dingy Fourth Avenue F-train station in Park Slope into a shiny, Euro-style transit portal.

As a result, Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) was reeling.

“How is it that we have millions of dollars to fund major projects like the Second Avenue subway, but can’t find the money to fund Brooklyn’s station renovations?” he asked.

In addition to the F’ing problem in Park Slope, the cutbacks also hit hard in Bensonhurst, where the Ninth Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 71st Street, 79th Street, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, 25th Avenue, and Bay 50th Street stations on the D line; and the Eighth Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway, 62nd Street, and 18th Avenue stations on the N line will no longer be given a sprucing up.

The cash-strapped agency would not reveal how much the canceled renovations would save, but Straphanger’s Campaign lawyer Gene Russianoff, citing MTA documents, said the state would save $220 million.

The renovation work was a part of a five-year, $2.7-billion spending plan that started in 2005. But the money got eaten up by unforeseen cost increases, MTA officials said.

It’s certainly not the first time that the MTA has promised more than it could deliver. Following this year’s fare hike, the agency promised to spend $30 million on expanded service, such as bus service from Red Hook to Manhattan, a better G train, late-night B-train service to Coney Island, a new bus from Williamsburg to Manhattan, and an extension to the B67 to Fulton Ferry in DUMBO.

None of those are happening now.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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