NYTIP – extending the nyc subway, part 5b: a (G)reater crosstown line

UPDATE (12.22.2020): G extension options revised – commentary and images updated.

Welcome back to my NYTIP series! In my last post, I discussed de-interlining and extension options for trains serving the Queens Boulevard trunk line. What do these improvements mean for future G train service? Find out in this blog post!

Note: Click any image to enlarge.

The Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown line, a.k.a. the G train, has a quirky history. It originally began as a shuttle between Queens Plaza and Nassau Avenue in Brooklyn before the full line opened in 1937. Throughout its life, it had a variety of northern and southern termini. On its north end, it terminated at Forest Hills – 71st Avenue, Queens Plaza, Jamaica – 179th Street, and Court Square stations (the last of which is its current terminus), while it terminated at either Church Avenue or Smith-9th Streets at its southern end. The Smith-9th Streets station was a very odd location to turn trains, especially given the existing tail tracks and storage space south of Church Avenue station. MTA rectified this in 2009 by extending the G train to Church Avenue – a change made permanent by 2012.

Adding to the line’s quirky history – and its reputation as an “outcast” – is the G train’s length. In its early years, the then-GG train ran with seven or eight 60-foot cars totaling 420-480 feet. When the G received 75-foot subway cars, it initially ran 6-car (450-foot) trains before MTA truncated them to 4-car (300-foot) trains.

In my first post on the Queens Boulevard de-interlining, I recommended full-length (600-foot) trains for the G to encourage ridership. Under NYTIP, opportunities exist to encourage ridership further by extending the G!

There are two potential corridors worth exploring.

Option 1: G extension via Northern Boulevard

[Fig. 1] Overview of Option 1. Created using Brand New Subway.

Option 1 contemplates a G train extension via Northern Boulevard to Bayside. When I first drafted this post, I considered a subway to Queensborough Community College. Then, I remembered that some CUNY schools – City College in particular – use bus shuttles to transport students to nearby subway stations. Similar shuttles could connect the Bayside subway and LIRR stations to Queensborough Community College, avoiding potentially difficult tunneling near Alley Pond Park – a Forever Wild site. Existing bus services, such as the Q30, could also extend northward to meet the subway.

To avoid conflicts with the Queens Boulevard line, the G would take a new alignment beginning immediately east of Court Square:

[Fig. 2] Track and station modifications required to facilitate the G extension via Northern Boulevard. (The original track map belongs to vanshnookenraggen.)

The new alignment allows the G to serve Queens Plaza and 36th Street stations without interfering with existing Queens Boulevard service. The line then runs alongside the Queens Boulevard express tracks, serving another station at 48th Street before crossing under the existing subway at Northern Boulevard – Broadway station. Option 1 contemplates a two-track subway with a switch and tail tracks extending about 1,000 feet beyond the Bayside – Bell Boulevard terminus.

This option supplements the 7 in Western Queens, and fills a gap in service in Northeast Queens.

Option 2: G extension via 57th Street, Manhattan

[Fig. 3] Overview of Option 2.

Option 2 extends the G to somewhere it has never been before – Manhattan! The extension begins with a sharp curve at an at-grade junction with existing tracks just past Court Square station:

[Fig. 4] Option 2 track map in Queens.

Since the 11th Street Cut occupies 43rd Avenue, the G extension may have to dip under it. The G may have enough clearance to proceed, given that at least one of the 11th Street Cut’s two tracks runs above the existing G line tracks. Another option, if feasible, is building a slightly tighter curve so the G extension tracks run adjacent to the existing 11th Street Cut.

In this option, the G traverses 43rd Avenue in Queens with a new station at 11th Street, then serves the Cornell Tech campus at Roosevelt Island and five new stations in Manhattan. This option also includes a switch and tail tracks past the new terminus; the tail tracks double as a provision for a New Jersey extension. The 57th Street corridor, as a local feeder route to the Queensboro Bridge, is often congested:

[Figs. 5, 6] 2019 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts for 57th Street.

As such, the G extension contemplated by Option 2 provides significant relief. Connections to 12 subway lines in Manhattan provide even greater relief.

With the G serving Manhattan, an opportunity exists to de-interline the Culver line in Brooklyn by reinstating full-time F express service:

[Fig. 7] Overview of the Culver de-interlining.

With this change, the G no longer merges with any other line, enabling significant service increases. Additionally, the F merges only with the M under this option, improving regularity.

Recommended path forward: Option 2. More than making the G a true “Crosstown” route, Option 2 enhances travel options for F and G riders, provides traffic congestion relief in Midtown, and is amenable to future expansion. Exercising this option does not preclude a future Northern Boulevard subway, which I will explore in a future post.

Next up on NYTIP, I will update my Southeast Queens extension post. Until next time!

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