In his last days in office, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is shoring up his legacy by highlighting his accomplishments. So even though the new subway station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue won't be open for several more months, it's operational enough that the outgoing mayor was able to christen it.
It may not lead to the mayor's original vision — a football stadium intended to be the centerpiece of the city's 2012 Olympic games — but it will take passengers to his plan B, the Hudson Yards redevelopment of Manhattan's far West Side.
"We didn't get the stadium," Bloomberg said, "but this neighborhood has been redone, and if you take a look at most of the things we wanted to build, housing, infrastructure kinds of things for the Olympics — most of them actually got done." In fact, he said, "the only thing that didn't get done [that was part of the Olympic bid] was the velodrome and the big stadium."
Currently, 14 million square feet of office, hotel, and residential space is under construction or scheduled to be built in the neighborhood.
The 7 extension, which the mayor said was "basically on budget and on time" (that's debatable), cost the city $2.4 billion. And even though the new station won't open to passengers until June 2014 (maybe: "It's construction," said an MTA worker. "We're doing the best we can") — no matter how you slice it, it's a watershed moment for the city's transit system.
"The last underground extension of the subway financed by the city was opened in December of 1950, when, for the record, I was 8 years old," crowed Mayor Bloomberg, "when the Queens Boulevard line was extended one stop to Jamaica-179th Street."
The station looks like many others in the system — granite tiles on the floor, subway tile on the wall — but it's got some bells and whistles. The track is low-vibration, meaning it will be quieter than the subway tracks we're used to. And the ventilation system is designed to keep the station within 10 degrees of the exterior temperature — a welcome feature on a hot summer day.
Bloomberg hopes the new station will inspire the next mayor to keep moving forward on the city's infrastructure needs. "We stopped in the 1970s," he said, "not only building new things but even maintaining what we have. And it's cost an awful lot to get back up and hopefully we won't forget that lesson, and we will go on and do it."
MTA officials say the station will carry 27,000 passengers a day.