A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF METRO NORTH
This is a letter I just received from Peter Cannito, President of Metro North re: Hartsdale Train station overpass and accessibility for the disabled at train station. Your thoughts would be appreciated. I will continue to press Metro North to complete the train station overpass as quickly as possible. I will be meeting with the President of Metro North about this matter in late January. PAUL FEINER
The Honorable Paul J. Feiner
Town of Greenburgh
177 Hillside Avenue
Greenburgh, NY 10607
I am writing in response to your recent correspondence, December 1 and 7, regarding the improvements underway at Hartsdale Station. Metro-North has been working diligently to complete this project and mitigate our customers' concerns while maintaining train service and a safe construction site.
As pointed out in prior correspondence, rehabilitation of a nearly 100-year-old overpass and stairs above active train tracks is a difficult undertaking due to the many unknowns and hidden conditions that only become apparent during the demolition process. Once the concrete deck and stair treads were removed from the Hartsdale overpass, it became evident that the steel repair requirements were more extensive and complex than the preliminary design had indicated. Although this inspection and design phase resulted in the perception that there was no work going on, Metro-North and the Design-Build team were working diligently at completing the design and finalizing the lead abatement process. Metro-North and the Design-Build team made adjustments to the abatement process to ensure that an efficient method be utilized that would minimize the overall construction duration at the three overpasses under the overall multi-station rehabilitation project. Metro-North and the Design-Build team have addressed all the above issues. The builder is completing the installation of the overpass containment, to be followed by abatement, steel repair, concrete deck construction and stair repair.
As you know, Metro-North representatives have met with you on several occasions since January 2003 when the conceptual plans were first presented and have kept you abreast of the project scope and schedule. During these meetings, particularly early on when the plans and staging were presented, Metro-North did not receive any major objections or concerns. In the most recent meeting held on November 17, Metro-North reviewed the status of the project and explained the efforts put forth to expedite the construction to recoup some of the lost time due to design work and abatement containment submittals. Since work began in August, Metro-North has been responsive in addressing the concerns raised about the project and we will continue to do so and keep you informed on the construction progress for the remainder of the project.
December 17, 2004
Regarding the issues addressed in your letter, I offer the following:
· Overpass and Stair Staging - The procedure to remove all four stairs and the overpass floor concurrently allows the builder to repair all of the elements at the same time. Limiting the builder's work to stair work first and then overpass work, or visa versa, would have significantly increased the total cost and time required for construction at Hartsdale. Also, to allow customers into the work zone during the concrete demolition and lead abatement/steel repair phase of the project would have posed a risk in creating an unsafe condition. Furthermore, since the potential repairs included the floor beams, which span the entire width of the overpass, staging the deck construction one half at a time was not possible, without again adding to the total cost and time required for completion. We have already directed the builder to phase the southerly stairs to the overpass so that when the deck is completed the overpass will then be opened while work moves to the north stairs. This will result in an earlier beneficial use date for our customers.
· Pedestrian Routing - At your meeting on June 2 with Metro-North the issues related to the installation of a temporary overpass were outlined. Metro-North does not own property beyond the platforms where the overpass was considered for placement. Upon determining the actual location of the temporary overpass to the north of the existing one, the installation of the temporary overpass foundations and stairs would have then required the elimination of parking spaces from an adjoining property owner. This would have incurred an additional cost to the project and moreover created logistical issues by limiting pedestrian and vehicular access around the base of the stairs and temporary overpass on the outbound (east) side. Moving the temporary overpass to the south of the current one and far enough away to avoid interference with the station building also posed similar access problems and diminished the advantage in having the temporary overpass since it would be located in close proximity to the Fenimore Roadbridge. As a result, Metro-North determined that the elimination of the temporary overpass could save the project time and money. At that time, this decision was met with no objection and we proceeded with the elimination of the temporary overpass from the project. As a result of the cost savings, Metro-North was then able to add to the project the design and construction of canopies for the stairways adjacent to Fenimore Roadbridge, which will provide a permanent benefit to our riders. Furthermore, Metro-North just completed the installation of temporary canopies on these stairs, which will provide added protection for our customers during the winter months until the permanent canopies are fabricated and constructed.
· Comparison to the Hudson Line stations project - Trains are running reverse side on the Hudsonline to avoid train boarding on bridgeplates and temporary platforms, and there is a long stretch of track out of service while construction work is taking place concurrently at nine stations. Also the river is on the westside along the Hudson Line and there is little impact at the stations since access to the platforms is primarily from the eastside of the tracks. If this method were applied along the Harlem Line, there would be adverse impacts at some stations since station access is available from both sides. The Harlem Line is only two tracks at Hartsdale compared to a four-track system on the Hudson Line and therefore there is less flexibility in train operations on the Harlem Line. You are correct in your assumption that there are switching obstacles. Unfortunately to run the trains in the opposite direction at Hartsdale would require a switch to be installed at the station which has a long lead time and would costs in the millions to construct. In response to your suggestion, our train operators have been instructed to stop the evening rush hour trains as far south as possible to shorten the walking distance to the FenimoreRoadBridge.
December 17, 2004
· Disabled Access to the Train Station - Metro-North is committed to improving accessibility to our stations. All Metro-North projects are reviewed to ensure compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The current Hartsdale station improvements have been designed in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and the design meets all applicable codes and regulations.
As previously indicated to the Town, the limited scope of work planned for rehabilitation of the historic overpass does not trigger the ADArequirement for the provision of elevators for vertical access. In addition, due to limited public funding we receive, the scope of work at this station addressed the repairs and improvements necessary to ensure continued safe operation of the facility.
Access for persons with mobility impairments is currently available to each platform via the existing platform ramps. In order to improve wheelchair access between platforms, Metro-North presented to the Town of Greenburghat the November meeting recommendations for accessibility improvements on the Town's sidewalks and roadways that could reduce the existing accessible route to half of its current distance. The cost for implementing these access improvements would be considerably less than installing elevators at the station and the work would provide a benefit to the entire community. As you are aware, Metro-North staff is available to meet with you to discuss these improvements further.
· Condition of Warming Hut (Platform Shelter) - We have inspected the shelter and made the necessary repairs to the roof.
· In response to your request that Metro-North consider a reduction in fares for customers until the project is completed, there has been no reduction in service or a ten-month delay in the project as you have stated. In fact, Metro-North is performing these station improvements while at the same time maintaining regular train service for our customers at Hartsdale. At the end of the project, our customers will have the long-term benefit of a rehabilitated and newly enclosed overpass and connecting stairways along with many added customer amenities. The project began with field construction at Hartsdale four months ago and the inconvenience with the overpass closure will be gone in the spring with beneficial use of the overpass.
In conclusion, Metro-North will continue to keep you informed on the status of the ongoing construction at Hartsdale station, and as such, will meet with you in January. Please coordinate with Mark Mannix of my staff in identifying the specific issues and concerns that your constituents may still have regarding this project. In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the Design-Builder to complete the overpass work and provide beneficial use that would allow for safe access through the overpass for our customers sooner than currently planned.
We apologize for any inconveniences to our customers during the construction work at Hartsdale station and thank you for your continued interest in this project.