Enjoy a fully running No. 6 subway line while you can, east Bronxites — because you’ll be losing two more stations soon.
The city reopened the newly renovated Middletown Road and Castle Hill Avenue on Sunday, May 4, complete with new mezzanines and platform walls to shield travelers from the elements.
But as the paint dries at those stops, locals at the nearby Zerega and Buhre avenue stations are gearing up for a more complicated commute when those stops come under the MTA’s fixup plan in July.
Find another route
“I’ll have to walk down to Middletown Road, which is way out of my way,” said Brian Falco, who lives on Crosby Road. “It’s just the wintertime I’m afraid of. If we have a winter like last one, that walk could be trouble.”
The city started construction on the Castle Hill Avenue and Middletown Road stations in October 2013 – part of a massive multi-million dollar revamping of the No. 6 line that locals and elected officials had complained was in disrepair.
“It’s going to be an inconvenience, but it’s going to be worth it,” said Maria Garcia, who uses the Buhre Avenue station now and will have to either walk to the Pelham Bay Park No. 6 train or take a shuttle bus from July 2014 to January 2015, when construction is expected to be done.
Tricky for local shops
Merchants near the Buhre Avenue stop are expecting the construction to be rough for business. Pelham Bay merchants will be meeting with MTA officials on May 20 at Honey Thai Pavilion to brainstorm ways to weather the storm.
“It’s going to be a mess, no matter how you slice it,” said Irene Guanill, president of the Pelham Bay Merchants Association. “But we’re hoping that we can minimize the effects as much as possible.”
When the city started construction at Castle Hill Avenue, merchants there complained that the contractors swallowed up key parking spaces.
Near the Buhre Avenue stop, the construction equipment could pose problems for the many senior citizens who frequent the shops on Crosby, Buhre and Westchester Avenues.
“I feel bad for the local businesses,” said Falco, the Pelham Bay local. “A lot of senior citizens won’t want to cross, with the equipment and debris.”
Residents who want to learn more about their transportation options during the construction can go to a public meeting on June 10 at 7 p.m. at St. Theresa’s Church.
The end result, even inconvienced locals pointed out, will be a safer and nicer subway station. But in the meantime, business will be far from usual.
“We know that this needs to happen. The better the station, the more welcoming it will be in the future,” said Guanill. “The hard part is: How are our shops going to operate in a construction site?”