The Knickerbocker Avenue M Station is back up and running again, and though it may have caused some inconvenience, residents and business owners could not be more pleased with the results.
As part of a $47 million refurbishment of five elevated train stations along the M line, repairs to the 123-year-old two-platform double track over Knickerbocker and Myrtle Avenues included an entirely rebuilt house and mezzanine level. The renovations includes new lighting fixtures and refurbished sidewalks and platform stairs.
As part of the MTA’s Arts for Transit Program, the new building will now exhibit 28 structural art displays, designed by Cal Lane, a New York-based artist.
NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast led a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning for the newly designed building, and reassured Bushwick residents that their M line has not been forgotten.
“The combination of funding from the Federal Transit Administration and the MTA Capital Program made this work possible, as well as the significant improvements being made to the other four stations on this project,” Prendergast said.
In addition to the Central Avenue stop just a few blocks up Myrtle Avenue, slated for the same five-month restoration with a groundbreaking set for March 2013, and expected for completion by August of this year, Prendergast also looked forward to renovations to the Seneca Avenue, Forest Avenue and Fresh Pond Road stops.
“The MTA is a massive system, and we work and invest continually to maintain a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment for our customers,” he said.
While members of the community say they have struggled during the last five months during renovations, the general consensus is largely positive as it was completed in five months, as planned.
Christina Duarte has lived in the neighborhood for the last five years, and explained that while the repairs inconvenienced her daily commute to and from work, she is happy to see the ceiling has been sealed and the building is back in full swing.
“When it was raining, inside it was worse than outside,” Duarte recalled of the old station.
After it closed back in August, she took the shuttle to the Myrtle and Broadway intersection for a transfer to the J line for her trips.
“It was like chaos,” she said.
However, it was inevitable that some businesses would temporarily suffer as a result of the work.
Dinetta Gilmore, a children’s book street vendor at Knickerbocker Avenue and Harman Street for the last five years, said she had to move her business to the Myrtle/Wyckoff station.
“Most of the businesses around here took hits because we lost the most vital season around here, which was the Christmas season,” Gilmore said. “I really struggled because I didn’t have the following down there.”
She explained that the M train provides Knickerbocker’s business district with a vibrant source of foot traffic and disagreed with the city’s timing, which came directly before the holiday season.
“It was hard on my customers because I have a loyal following, because I sell children’s educational books,” she said. “It was unfortunately unavoidable because this station was literally falling apart.”
Councilwoman Diana Reyna agreed that while the station should have been overhauled long ago, she is pleased to see a timely completion from the MTA despite the skeptics.
“The Knickerbocker Avenue Station was an overly congested and dilapidated station within close proximity of three schools, a business corridor and a police precinct,” Reyna said. “While this project was long overdue, I am extremely pleased that the MTA dedicated the resources necessary to provide the Bushwick community with a safe, modern and aesthetically pleasing, 21st century, transportation hub.”