Starting on November 3 and continuing until next spring, the Clark Street subway station in Brooklyn Heights will be completely closed to allow for the replacement of three aging elevators. The announcement was made by the MTA in a press release earlier this week, and outlines alternative transit options for New Yorkers who frequent Clark Street.
Serving the 2 and 3 trains, the Clark Street station is one of the deepest in Brooklyn due to its proximity to the Montague Street Tunnel to Manhattan (Clark Street is the first stop the 2 and 3 trains make in Brooklyn). While the station is closed, riders are encouraged to use the nearby High Street station (serving the A and C trains) and the Borough Hall/Court Street station (serving the 2, 3, 4, 5, and R trains) that are both within walking distance of Clark Street.
From the Clark Street station, these alternative stations can be reached via the B25 bus or a Citi Bike. Transfers to the bus are free of charge.
Elevator replacements have been a long time coming at Clark Street. The current elevators have been in service for more than 100, and were already subject to a large repair project that partially closed the station for months in 2000.
“These enhancements are an important step to ensure that New Yorkers have a safe, reliable transit system at all times,” said Interim New York City Transit President Craig Cipriano. “NYC Transit remains focused on welcoming New Yorkers back to a modernized system that is the quickest way to navigate the city.”
Planning for the Clark Street elevator renovation began during Andy Byford’s time as NYC Transit President. Before the pandemic the MTA organized town hall meetings at St. Francis College to gather input, and presented two options for the project: one that would partially close the station and one that would close it completely. The organization opted for the latter, hoping that it would speed up the construction process.
“This project is a model for how the MTA can deliver infrastructure projects better, faster and cheaper,” said Janno Lieber, Acting MTA Chair and CEO. “The plan to replace all three elevators at Clark Street simultaneously reduces the length of construction time and minimizes the impact that this disruption will cause for our riders.”
Members of the Brooklyn Heights community have been aware of the station’s potential closure for years, but the start of construction still managed to present new challenges.
“This has been in the works for quite some time, even pre-COVID,” Lara Birnback, a member of the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), told our paper. “For people living in the area, the need for elevator repairs were messaged well in advance. I think this service change is worse for people newer to the area, who may have moved here during COVID and were not entirely aware of the needed repairs.”
Birnback continued: “Undoubtedly it will inconvenience the community, but the replacement is a worthy project. Anyone who has been stuck on those elevators knows just how bad it can get.”
The BHA has worked with the MTA to help circulate information about transit alternatives, and has urged the agency to ensure that the elevator at High Street (where many riders are being diverted to) will remain fully operational and accessible.
Although the Clark Street station itself is closing, the underground mezzanine that serves the station — which is home to a number of small businesses — will remain open. The BHA and MTA have committed to supporting these businesses by connecting them to resources at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and NYC Small Business Network.
“It will be a hard time for them, so the BHA will try to rally people in the community to support those businesses,” Birnback added.
Employees at Drip Coffee Makers (one of the businesses on the Clark Street mezzanine) are concerned about the station closure but hopeful that locals will continue to visit them.
“We’ve definitely had customers come up and voice concern, asking if we are still going to be here,” said Nick Pottorff, an employee at Drip. “As far as I know we have no plans to shut down, but the last time the station shut down for a weekend during the summer it was brutal. We have a lot more customers in general now, a lot of locals instead of the commuters who just come in. The elevator closure is still a big variable though.”
The project’s contractor, Forte Construction Corp., will have a street presence for this project beginning the week of October 25, 2021 in order to mobilize for the replacement work. All construction activity will be scheduled from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. on weekdays, and the vast majority of work will take place underground within the Clark Street station.