NYTIP: enhancing the nyc subway, part 4: eastern parkway

Welcome back to my ongoing series on the New York-area Transportation Improvement Plan (NYTIP)! In my last post, I discussed the Broadway and Queens Boulevard lines, and the challenges faced in de-interlining the latter. In this post, I will discuss the Eastern Parkway trunk line served by the 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines in Brooklyn.

[Fig. 1] Snippet of the NYC Subway Map showing the Eastern Pkwy trunk line and branches.

The Eastern Pkwy trunk line runs from Borough Hall to Crown Heights – Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. The 2 and 3 lines run local, while the 4 and 5 lines run express. West of Franklin Avenue station, the trunk is already “de-interlined” since 2 and 3 trains from Manhattan’s west side run local and 4 and 5 trains from Manhattan’s east side run express. East of Franklin Avenue station, the 2 and 5 diverge via the Nostrand Avenue branch, while the 3 and 4 continue via Eastern Pkwy; the 3 runs local to New Lots Avenue, while the 4 runs express to Utica Avenue.

The current pattern constrains capacity on the 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines due to a single junction – the notorious Rogers Avenue Junction (also called Nostrand Junction):

[Fig. 2] Nostrand Junction. Source: Regional Plan Association’s Save our Subways publication.

As originally designed, Nostrand Junction had local service splitting into two branches (one via Nostrand Avenue and one continuing east on Eastern Pkwy) and express service continuing via Eastern Pkwy to the Utica Avenue terminal. Under the current pattern, the 5 express crosses the local tracks at grade to access the Nostrand Avenue branch. Due to this merging conflict and the inefficient design of the Flatbush Avenue – Brooklyn College terminal (which wasn’t intended as a terminal), several rush-hour 2, 4, and 5 trains start or end at Utica Avenue or New Lots Avenue. This causes even more conflicts.

The Regional Plan Association has the right idea when they suggest sending the 2/3 via Nostrand Avenue and the 4/5 via Eastern Pkwy, but there’s a problem – this pattern still requires either the 4 or the 5 to cross the local tracks to serve the local stops east of Franklin Avenue.

As such, NYTIP prescribes the following capital investment:

Rework Nostrand Junction to eliminate at-grade crossings.

NYTIP recommends this investment. The cheapest way to do this is to adopt RPA’s suggestion, which requires short track extensions as depicted in the figure below:

[Fig. 3] Reworked Nostrand Junction with new track segments. The original track map belongs to vanshnookenraggen.

With these short track segments, it is now possible to fully de-interline Eastern Pkwy without merging conflicts. NYTIP contemplates RPA’s suggestion – 2/3 via Nostrand Avenue, 4/5 via Eastern Pkwy – and implements it as follows:

Swap the 3 and 5 lines east of Franklin Avenue.

[Fig. 4] Overview of the 3/5 swap, via Brand New Subway.

Through this swap, the 3 replaces the 5 to Flatbush Avenue – Brooklyn College, and the 5 replaces the 3 to New Lots Avenue. This allows for service increases on the 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines. While the Flatbush Avenue – Brooklyn College terminal limits capacity, this is solvable either by constructing tail tracks or extending the Nostrand Avenue branch. I’ll discuss the Nostrand Avenue branch extension in a future post.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the Bronx IRT – specifically, the 2, 4, and 5 lines. Until next time!

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