Ben Kabak reports in Second Avenue Sagas that in its bid to make the best of the upcoming service cuts, the Transit Authority is looking to re-activate the connection between the Sixth Avenue lines and the J/M Nassau Street line.
This connection was built as part of the larger project linking the Sixth Avenue line to the Manhattan Bridge, (the Chrystie Street Cut), a project completed in 1967. Due to shifting population and business patterns, the J/M connection was never extensively used, and last saw passenger service more than 30 years ago.
However, by having the foresight and wherewithal to build the spur, it allows for operational flexibility that today is proving valuable.
It's a sad contrast to today, when the MTA has apparently dropped plans to construct even a station shell at 10th Avenue for the #7 line extension. This decision not only makes the extension a very expensive 1-stop ride, it will negatively impact the economic value on the West Side for decades.
Without the shell being in place, to construct a station at the site at some future date, will be much more technically difficult and probably never economically feasible.
Similarly, the decision to eliminate a 3rd track at the 72nd Street station on the Second Avenue line, will reduce operational flexibility. This isn't as big a deal as no 10th Avenue station on the 7 line, but just as we benefit today from the decisions made 50 or even 100 years ago when the subway was built (express tracks, flying crossovers, etc), we will conversely suffer for a long time due to the myopia and penny-pinching that exists today.
A little bit of trivia about the Chrystie Street connection: Below the subway, at Chrystie and Broome streets, is the only portion of Robert Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway ever constructed. The 80 x 80-foot portion was built contemporaneously with the J/M connection, because if they waited until after the subway was built, it would been necessary to dig right through/under the subway to construct the road.
So today this bit of six-lane highway sits in the dark, forever sealed below the streets of Manhattan. A testament to the ability of Jane Jacobs to stop the unstoppable man, but also ironically, a testament also to the kind of foresight that is absent now.