NYTIP – extending the nyc subway, part 2: from the concourse to co-op city

Welcome back to my ongoing NYTIP series! In my last post, I began expounding on point 2 in the three-point plan to fix the NYC Subway – extend – with SAS Phase 2X and an Astoria line extension to LaGuardia Airport. In this post, I will discuss an extension near and dear to my heart – the Concourse line extension to Co-op City.

The Concourse line opened in 1933. However, plans for its extension date back to 1929:

[Fig. 1] Snippet of the ambitious IND Second System plan from 1929 showing the Concourse line extension.

From Norwood – 205th Street station, the proposed extension crosses under Bronx Park and runs via Burke Ave and Boston Rd to Baychester Avenue. The Great Depression of 1929 killed both this plan and the Concourse line’s original 4-track layout; instead, the city built a 3-track line to Bedford Park with two tracks extending to Norwood and a provision for further expansion. After the New York, Westchester, and Boston (NYW&B) railway ceased service in 1937, the city planned a modified Concourse line extension via Burke Ave and the NYW&B right-of-way to Eastchester – Dyre Avenue. However, to save costs, the city connected the NYW&B to the IRT White Plains Rd line instead, forming today’s 5 train.

In 1968, the MTA planned a short Concourse line extension to White Plains Rd, connecting with the 2 line at either Burke Ave or Gun Hill Rd station. However, this plan never came to fruition either. The MTA has not proposed any Concourse line extensions since then.

What would be the rationale for a Concourse line extension today? There are several justifications for it, including:

  • Co-op City. It is the largest housing cooperative on Earth, and one of the largest neighborhoods in NYC without a rapid transit link. (That soon won’t be the case, as MTA’s Penn Station Access project includes a station at Co-op City South.)
  • Cross-Bronx transit. The Bronx is the only borough among those served by the NYC Subway without any form of crosstown rapid transit (Select Bus Service doesn’t count, although one could argue part of the 6 line does).
  • Crosstown congestion. All of The Bronx’s crosstown buses perform poorly due to chronic delays and car-caused traffic congestion; all but one of The Bronx’s crosstown routes received grades of D or F from the Bus Turnaround Coalition.

To address these issues:

Extend both the Concourse line and the 6 line to Co-op City.

[Fig. 2] Concourse line and 6 line extensions to Co-op City.

NYTIP proposes a Concourse line extension via Gun Hill Rd to Co-op City. The line consists of a short tunnel segment diverging from existing tracks just east of Norwood – 205th Street station. From there, it emerges onto an elevated viaduct situated in the grassy patch around 207th Street between Webster Ave and Parkside Pl, then curves onto Gun Hill Rd. Building the vast majority of this extension as an elevated reduces the overall extension cost and avoids disturbing Bronx Park and the Bronx River with tunneling. The viaduct wouldn’t be a noisy bare-steel structure like the els of old, but a modern reinforced concrete viaduct or similar that reduces noise.

The extension includes six new stations at Gun Hill Rd – Williamsbridge Plaza (5 train), Boston Rd, Eastchester Rd (2 train), Allerton Ave, Co-op City South (6 train, Metro-North), and Co-op City – Bay Plaza. While a Bartow Ave alignment provides a more direct route to Bay Plaza, NYTIP recommends the alignment above to serve Allerton Ave and the nearby shopping plaza, which has no transit access other than the Bx26 bus. The area around Allerton Ave also includes land potentially suitable for transit-oriented development.

Importantly, the full Gun Hill Rd alignment covers the span from the Bronx River Pkwy to the New England Thruway (I-95) – each of which contribute to traffic woes on Gun Hill Rd:

[Fig. 3] 2016 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts for the Gun Hill Rd corridor. Blue circles are within the Concourse line extension; red circles are not.

At Co-op City, NYTIP recommends extending the 6 line to meet the Concourse line extension at Co-op City South, forming a major transfer point to the future Metro-North station. The two lines then continue northward to Bay Plaza station, situated on Co-op City Blvd between Asch and Bellamy Loops, with additional entrances on Bartow Ave. While Bay Plaza is the terminus, NYTIP contemplates a design allowing extension further north to a station in the vicinity of Carver Loop and Peartree Square:

[Fig. 4] Optional Co-op City North extension for enhanced service.

Since Co-op City has high ridership potential, another optional capital investment is converting Westchester Square station on the 6 line to an express stop, extending 6 local service to Westchester Square, and expanding <6> express service to Westchester Square from 3rd Ave – 138th Street.

[Fig. 5] Optional Westchester Square express stop conversion with new switches built to accommodate the service increase. (Original track map by vanshnookenraggen.)

This is not a requirement for either the Concourse line extension or 6 line extension, but it’s a consideration for the future.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the Utica Avenue subway. Until next time!

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