The West 238th Street elevated train station along Broadway is kicking off winter with a bang of rebuilding.
Stairs leading up to the uptown 1 train platform are closed and will remain so throughout the winter. For commuters hoping to grab a train from that part of town, it might mean a bit of a foot detour.
This particular station boasts three staircases — one downtown and two others uptown. Work on one of the uptown staircases already is done, reopening Sept. 2 with a new high entrance and exit turnstile, among other work.
Now, however, that staircase is the only one going to and from the West 238th station, because the other uptown stairs have closed the same time as the lone downtown one, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.
“Since there is only one staircase on the southbound side, the station will be bypassed in that direction while the work is being done,” MTA spokesman Andrei Berman said.
With downtown trains skipping West 238th, commuters will have to find one of the two alternative stations either a few blocks north at West 242nd Street, or by hopping on the Bx9 bus to West 231st Street, officials said.
“The next station is close by, but it can be an extra five or six blocks,” said Eric Bell, vice chair of Community Board 8’s traffic and transportation committee, who was speaking on behalf of himself. “I don’t mind the walk, but I can understand for people who are not able to do that or take the Bx9 and meet up at another station.
“That adds to commuting time, and could be difficult for people who are elderly.”
Bell wrote a letter to the MTA last year alerting them of the rust, the concrete that was visible through the staircase, and about rotting wood at the century-old station. A few weeks later, personnel came by and did basic repairs, Bell said. However he doesn’t believe his complaint alone was what triggered the larger winter project because the staircase was in need of restoration.
The construction goal is not just to replace the old stairways, but also to install new stairway handrails, treads and risers along with a stair canopy, gutters, drainpipes and lighting. Officials said earlier this year repairs would cost just under $1.7 million, and funded in part through MTA’s Small Business Development Program.
The station was opened in 1908, according to the MTA, but is not one of the most heavily traveled. More than 1.3 million people boarded or departed from the 1 train there in 2017, up from 1.1 million in 2012. Yet, traffic at the station is ranked toward the bottom of MTA’s 425 train stations.
By comparison, the West 231st station handled more than 3 million passengers last year, compared to 2.8 million in 2012.
The West 242nd Street, which drew 2.2 million passengers last year, had its stairways and canopies replaced in 2016.
“It’s an inconvenience, but it’s a necessity,” said Bell, who uses the station five days a week. “I don’t mind walking to the 242nd Street one if the rust-filled stations are being renovated.”