Monday morning at 9am, a shiny new entrance to the First Avenue stop on the L train opened to the public. What’s been years of seemingly little progress on the L is finally showing some results. The entrance is located at 14th Street and Avenue A, giving easier access to residents of Stuy-Town and other areas east of the First Avenue stop.
The new opening is for Brooklyn-bound L trains, and the entrance has two sets of stairs, clean white tiles and an abundance of bright lights. It’s the first of many improvements on the docket for the First Avenue stop, including sidewalk restoration and two elevators to increase accessibility.
“For years we’ve been thinking, ‘Wow, it’d be such a great idea to have an entrance here,’” said Tim Cramer, who lives on 12th Street and Avenue A. He rides the L train about three times a week. “I think it’s a really amazing thing. Out of all the stuff they can be doing in the subway they did something here and I think it’s fantastic.”
The new entrance will alleviate some congestion at the stop and save a lot of riders that long block of walking. “It’s very good for me,” said Bestabe Marin, who works as a home helper in the East Village and uses the 1st Avenue station a lot. “I used to take the bus, but now I can have the train close and easy. I’m so glad.”
The new improvement to the station is a welcome addition to what will soon be a bustling hub. After some initial controversy, congestion on 14th Street has been eased by a well-received new busway that bans cars during rush hour. And now, a Target that opened in 2018 and a Trader Joe’s currently under construction are sure to bring more shoppers to the L stop.
With the Avenue A entryway up and running, the staircases on First Avenue will close in about a week for repairs, according to EV Grieve. But maybe this opening marks the beginning of the end. Though there’s still a lot to accomplish before the project’s summer 2020 deadline (such as elevators at 1st Avenue and other stations), it’s looking hopeful. The L train project is set to finish three months ahead of schedule. After countless headaches and delays, could the L train finally be on the right track?