Putting a controversial plan that was announced before the COVID-19 pandemic into action, the MTA plans to close the 2 and 3 lines’ Clark Street station in Brooklyn Heights from Tuesday, Nov. 2 until spring 2022 in order to replace all three existing elevators.
Customers will be asked to utilize the B25 bus route that operates on Cadman Plaza West, or walk to the High Street A/C, Court Street R or Borough Hall 2, 3, 4, 5 stations, according to the Brooklyn Heights Association.
While the High Street Station is a short distance from the Clark Street stop, Clark Street, which is accessed through an arcade that has several stores and has the customer service booth at street level, has a more rider-friendly atmosphere.
At High Street, in contrast, riders must walk down a long staircase to the fare control level, and can only access escalators from there — a feature that leaves out disabled riders. In addition, Cadman Plaza West, where the High Street station is located, can sometimes be deserted at night, while the intersection of Clark and Henry streets, where the Clark Street station is located, has much more foot traffic.
The closing of the Clark Street station was talked about increasingly, starting in 2018-19. At the time, there were sporadic elevator breakdowns, including one in which passengers were trapped inside for an hour. The station, which is one of the deepest in the transit system, is dependent on elevators, but the last time they were replaced was in 1995.
At a meeting in September 2019, the MTA presented several options. One, the quicker option, would close all three elevators at the same time, while another would take longer but would allow the elevators to be worked on separately.
After the MTA decided on the faster option, merchants inside the Clark Street arcade protested, saying that the closure could put them out of business, according to an Eagle article by Mary Frost in February 2020. “This will put us out of business; we depend on the customers,” Fernando Costano, a long-time employee at Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master, told Frost.
The Current Timeline
The MTA’s construction contractor will begin storing materials for this project beginning the week of Oct. 25, 2021, the BHA said. The main staging area, which will include a trailer with offices, will be on the west side of Henry Street from Clark Street to Pineapple Street. A second, smaller staging area will be at the north corner of Clark Street between Henry Street and Hicks Street. The main staging area is designed not to impede the bike lane, but when the bike lane is temporarily interrupted, there will be flaggers on the street.
Construction activity is slated to be scheduled 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and the vast majority of work will be done within the Clark Street station. According to the MTA, for the first eight to 10 weeks of the project, noise will be heard coming from generators utilized for interior work, but it won’t be heard on a regular basis. Street activity won’t take place on weekends or evenings unless it is needed, the MTA said.
“The MTA will work with the businesses in and around the station to understand their needs and concerns for the duration of the project, and it will be up to us as neighborhood consumers to be sure we continue to patronize and support them during this time,” the BHA said.