New York City is opening its first new subway station in more than two decades.
Almost two years after its initial promised opening date, a subway stop at 34th street and 11th Avenue is ready for business, adding a new transit option to a part of the city experiencing a construction boom and drawing new visitors to the High Line, the repurposed elevated railway that is now a popular park.
The station on Manhattan’s far West Side extends the No. 7 train 2.4 kilometers past its current last stop in Times Square, and it’s the first station added to the system since 1989. Service was scheduled to start late Sunday, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The station will serve the new Hudson Yards project — about 17 million square feet of office, residential and hotel space being built where only rail yards used to be. Transit officials point out it’s the only subway line serving the area west of Ninth Avenue below 59th Street.
“It is the centerpiece toward redeveloping the far West Side,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
Construction on the $2.4 billion project, financed by the city, started in 2007 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was initially projected to be completed by December 2013, but officials pushed that back several times.
Ortiz said the delays stemmed from making sure components like escalators, elevators and some communications systems were in place and running properly.
The station is the first in the system to have elevators that travel on an incline like escalators do, and will also maintain a steady temperature of between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius on platforms no matter the outside weather.
Richard Barone, director of transportation programs for the Regional Plan Association, said the new extension will spur redevelopment “of an area that was pretty much inaccessible.”
Commuter advocate Gene Russianoff, of The Straphangers Campaign, agreed it was about redevelopment, and didn’t consider it “a giant step forward for the system.”
“It has more to do with real estate than it has to do with serving the riding public,” he said, adding that the other infrastructure projects in the works would do more.