Park Slope straphangers will be, well, strapped, beginning this weekend when a major construction project on the F and G lines results in long-term service changes and partial station closures to several neighborhood stations through 2012.
Among the worst of the service changes, Manhattan and Queens-bound service from 15th Street-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway will be completely suspended from Monday, January 10 through May 2011, forcing commuters to head to Church Avenue and then doubleback to Manhattan or Queens-bound trains.
Additionally, there will be no Manhattan-bound service at the Smith-9th streets station. Manhattan and Queens-bound trains will stop on the express track at Seventh Avenue and Manhattan-bound F and Queens-bound G trains will stop at a temporary platform at the 4th Avenue-9th Street station.
The service changes are the result of a $275.5 million engineering and construction project to rehabilitate the elevated steel and concrete Culver Viaduct structure, which both the F and G train lines run along.
The MTA said it will also work to rehabilitate signals and switches, as well as the platforms, canopies and historic archway at the 4th Avenue-9th Street station.
Regardless of reason, morning commuters at 15th Street-Prospect Park were far from pleased.
"I am appalled. How can they take away our service for five months?" said Kathryn Maier, who commutes daily from the 15th street station but starting Monday will make a daily trek to Seventh Avenue to catch the train. "If it were five days or even two weeks I would understand, but I don't know what they are thinking making these kinds of changes for five months."
According to MTA spokesperson Deidre Parker, the extended closures at some stations are necessary to get it done. "This is a complete reconstruction of the structure," she said. "We are rebuilding the northbound local tracks so they will be out of service full time."
In a statement to Patch, Councilmember Brad Lander expressed concern that shuttle bus service will not be offered to compensate for the long-term service changes, especially at Fort Hamilton Parkway, where alternative bus service is not available.
"While this is a necessary project, the fact that shuttle bus service is not being provided is a real hardship on transit riders, and we hope the MTA will consider implementing alternative service," he said.
The area of construction begins at the tunnel portal south of the Carroll Street station and ends at the portal south of Fourth Avenue, but service cuts and changes to stations from Jay Street-MetroTech to Church Avenue will occur through fall 2012. In preparation for the project, service between these stations will be suspended this coming weekend and replaced by a free shuttle bus.
According to the MTA, future phases of the project will completely close the Smith-9th Streets station from May 2011 through spring 2012 and suspend service on Coney Island-bound F or Church Avenue-bound G trains at 15th Street-Prospect
Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway stations from fall 2011 through 2012.
Park Slope commuter Robert Smith put it perfectly: "It sucks."
This story was updated to reflect comments from the MTA.