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

UPDATE (03.22.2020): Post updated with alternative alignments for the Concourse extension.

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 extensions of the Concourse and Pelham lines 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 the Concourse and Pelham lines to Co-op City.

Let’s explore two options for these extensions.

Option 1: Concourse line extension to Co-op City South

[Fig. 2] Overview of Option 1, created using Brand New Subway.

Option 2: Concourse line extension to Bay Plaza

[Fig. 3] Overview of Option 2.

Both options include a Pelham line (6 train) extension with new stations at Co-op City South, Co-op City – Bay Plaza, and Co-op City North – Peartree Square. Under Option 1, the Concourse line (C train) extends to Co-op City South with 5 new stations, creating a transit hub with the 6 train, multiple bus lines, and a future Metro-North station. Under Option 2, the C train extends to Bay Plaza with 4 new stations.

The existing Concourse line tracks extend past the current Norwood – 205th Street to Webster Avenue. NYTIP contemplates a mostly-elevated line to avoid disturbing Bronx Park and the Bronx River. There are two potential locations for el portals:

[Fig. 4] Potential Concourse line extension alignments and approximate location of el portals.

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.

Recommended path forward: Option 1. NYTIP recommends Option 1 to facilitate the transit hub at Co-op City South. Option 1 also serves Allerton Avenue and the nearby shopping plaza, which has no transit access other than the Bx26 bus. The area around Allerton Avenue also includes land potentially suitable for transit-oriented development.

Importantly, Option 1 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. 5] 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.

As an optional enhancement, the C extension can continue further north with the 6 extension:

[Fig. 6] Optional Co-op City North extension for enhanced service.

While such an extension has high ridership potential, it would make the Concourse line as a whole circuitous. As such, NYTIP recommends the direct extension to Co-op City South in Option 1.

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.

[Fig. 7] Optional Westchester Square express stop conversion with new switches built to accommodate increased service (Original track map by vanshnookenraggen.)

This is not a requirement for either the C or 6 train extensions, but it’s a consideration for the future.

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

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

  1. The tail tracks past the Norwood-205th St station are pointing towards Burke Ave, not Gun Hill Rd on the White Plains Line. If there are no plans for directional express on the WPL, it shouldn’t matter which station the Concourse extension connects to, and therefore it would be a much straighter ROW if it were to continue under Burke Ave and Gun Hill Rd, rather than Gun Hill Rd all the way.

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    1. While it’s true that the Burke Avenue alignment is the straighter shot (and indeed, the original plan for the Concourse extension), such an extension would disturb Bronx Park and the Bronx River – both of which are protected IINM. Since the tracks end at Webster, a Gun Hill alignment would begin somewhat west of there. I haven’t considered the WPL express north of East 180th, so if it’s possible to build a Burke Avenue subway without impacting the Bronx Park and River, then I’m not opposed (though it’d likely have to be underground).

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