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IRT New Lots Line

The IRT New Lots Line or Livonia Avenue Line[2]:129 is a rapid transit line in the IRT A Division of the New York City Subway. Located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the line runs from Utica Avenue in Crown Heights and continues to New Lots Avenue in East New York.[3][4][5]

IRT New Lots Line
"3" train "4" train
The New Lots Line is served by the 3 at all times except late nights, when the 4 takes over service.
Limited service is also provided by the 2 and 5.
TypeRapid transit
SystemNew York City Subway
TerminiSutter Avenue–Rutland Road
New Lots Avenue
Daily ridership73,760[1]
OwnerCity of New York
Operator(s)New York City Transit Authority
Line length4.91 miles (7.90 km)
Number of tracks2-3
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification600V DC third rail
Route map

dead-end at Ralph Avenue
Sutter Avenue–Rutland Road
Saratoga Avenue
Rockaway Avenue
Junius Street
Pennsylvania Avenue
Van Siclen Avenue
New Lots Avenue



In 1913, New York City, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) reached an agreement, known as the Dual Contracts, to drastically expand subway service across New York City. As part of Contract 3 of the agreement, between New York City and the IRT, the original subway opened by the IRT in 1904 to City Hall,[6] and extended to Atlantic Avenue in 1908,[7] was to be extended eastward into Brooklyn.[8] The line was to be extended along Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway to Buffalo Street as a four-track subway line, and then along East 98th Street and Livonia Avenue to New Lots Avenue as an elevated two-track line, with provisions for the addition of a third track. In addition, a two-track branch line along Nostrand Avenue branching off east of the Franklin Avenue station was to be constructed.[9]

The underground portion of the line became known as the Eastern Parkway Line, or Route 12, while the elevated portion became known as the New Lots Line. This section was constructed as an elevated line because the ground in this area is right above the water table, and as a result the construction of a subway would have been prohibitively expensive.[10] This line was constructed as Route 31 Livonia Avenue Route.[11] In 1914, several studies of the line had been completed.[12] At the end of 1916, contract drawings for the line were completed, and the working drawings were being prepared. While preliminary studies for the construction of a yard along the line were completed, its locations was not yet decided upon.[13]:192–193 On April 16, 1916, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) denied a request by the Chief Engineer of the IRT for the installation of a third track on the line to provide necessary space for train storage. The request was turned down because it would have required the acquisition of additional steel and because the legal routing of Route 31 did not specify the construction of a third track along the line.[14] On May 9, 1916, title was acquired to sixteen parcels of land between the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Buffalo Street and East New York Avenue opposite of East 98th Street in condemnation proceedings to complete the line.[13]:136


Bids were opened for the construction of the line on May 23, 1916.[13]:193 Six bids on the project were received, and, on June 1, 1916, the contract was awarded to Dennis E. Conners, who submitted the low bid of $1,376,122. The high bid to build the line was for $1,467,000.[15] Work on the project had to be completed by June 1, 1917.[16] On June 5, the PSC accepted bids for 52,756 tons of structural steel to be used on multiple subway extensions to be completed as part of the Dual Contracts.[13]:109–110 15,100 tons of the steel would be for the Livonia Avenue extension.[17] The PSC put this contract out to determine whether it would not be possible to let separate contracts for the steel by line, given that the price of steel was rapidly increasing. Three bids were submitted, but the Chief Engineer recommended that they all be rejected with the hope that the rapid increases in the price of steel would halt, and instead would go down. As a result, the three bids were rejected June 22. On June 8, the award of the construction of the line to Conners was rescinded;[18] he sent a letter to the PSC on June 20, agreeing to reduce his bid for steel by $20,000. The PSC rejected the bids accepted for the construction of the line. It readvertised bids for the steel work and its erection, or just for the erection of the steel at the end of 1916.[13]:109–110

A new contract for the construction of the line was awarded by the PSC on January 17, 1917. The contract for the steel was awarded to American Bridge Company for $1,431,755, and the contract for the erection of the structure was awarded to W.G. Cooper for $257,164.[19] The cost of these two contracts was $1,688,919, and work on the line had to be completed in fifteen months.[20] Construction on the line began in spring 1917, and a quarter of the work that needed to be done before the erection of the steel was completed by September 1917.[21]

Construction on the line was 17% complete at the end of Fiscal Year 1917,[22] and was 25% complete at the end of Fiscal Year 1918. Drainage work on the line was 35% complete, and station work was underway at the end of Fiscal Year 1918.[23] In August 1919, work on the Livonia Avenue Line was suspended because W.G. Cooper broke his contract due the high cost of material and labor. In February 1920, a contract for the unfinished portion of the line was awarded to George W. McNulty and the Holbrook, Cabot and Rollins Company. The contract for the completion of stations was awarded in July 1920, and was expected to take six months to complete. That month, it was announced that the line would not be ready to open for an additional eight months.[24]

During 1919, the city purchased an area of land bounded by Hegeman and Lawrence Avenues, and Elton and Linwood Streets for the construction of a storage yard. Contracts for the yard were awarded in 1920.[25] The yard was to be built with inspection facilities and the ability to store 250 cars.[26]


The first portion of the line between Utica Avenue and Junius Street opened on November 22, 1920, with shuttle trains operating over this route.[27][28] This extended service on the Eastern Parkway Line, which had opened from Atlantic Avenue to Utica Avenue on August 23, 1920.[29] The New Lots Line opened one more stop farther to the east to Pennsylvania Avenue on December 24, 1920.[28] At that date, only the southbound platform was used.[2]:129

In 1921, the stations at Van Siclen Avenue and New Lots Avenue were practically completed, but they were not opened yet because trains could not run to the terminal until track work, the signal tower, and the compressor room were in service.[30]:129–130 On March 15, 1921 a contract for the completion of a signal tower to control train movements at the terminal crossovers at New Lots Avenue and at the entrances to Livonia Yard was submitted to the New York City Board of Estimate. However, the Board rejected it on April 24, 1922. The contract was rebid and was resubmitted to the Board on May 15, 1922, before being approved on June 9, 1922.[31][32] Work on the tracks, the signal tower and the compressor began on June 19, 1922.[33]

On May 26, 1921, the contract for the installation of tracks in Livonia Yard was awarded to B.T. & J.J. Mack, and was sent to the New York City Board of Estimate for approval. However, the contract was returned to the New York State Transit Commission (NYSTC) on August 2, 1921, because the contract did not receive the number of votes needed for approval. The contract was returned to the Board of Estimate on April 5, 1922, and was approved on April 28, 1922. Work began on May 18, 1922, and the approach tracks needed for the operation of through service to New Lots Avenue were completed on July 18, 1922.[26]

View of the northeast corner of Livonia Yard.

Shuttles started operating between Pennsylvania Avenue and New Lots Avenue on October 16, 1922,[28] with a two-car train operating on back and forth along on the northbound track.[33] Trains ran every eight minutes during rush hours, and ten minutes during middays, and made close connections with main line service at Pennsylvania Avenue.[34] The implementation of shuttle service was done at the request of the NYSTC,[35] which urged the IRT to start service as soon as it could safely be operated.[36] Though work on the tower was not yet finished at the time, enough was completed to allow for the shuttle service.[32] The use of shuttle service accelerated the opening of this portion of the line by a month,[36] when through service was estimated to be inaugurated with the completion of the tower.[34] Work on Livonia Yard was completed on December 31, 1922, and the yard was opened for service on July 28, 1923. On October 31, 1924, through service to New Lots Avenue was begun.[33]

On January 23, 1928, Van Cortlandt Park trains (later labeled 1 trains) stopped being split at Eastern Parkway–Brooklyn Museum on the IRT Eastern Parkway Line. The back half of each train would head to Flatbush Avenue–Brooklyn College on the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line, and the front half would head to New Lots Avenue on the New Lots Avenue Line.[37] With the change in service, West Farms trains (later labeled 2 trans) were extended from Atlantic Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, and all Van Cortlandt Park trains were extended to New Lots Avenue.[38]

Expansion plansEdit

A view of the New Lots Avenue looking east from the Pennsylvania Avenue station showing the line's unused center trackway, with a building constructed on top of it.

On March 1, 1951, the New York City Board of Transportation announced that it would conduct an engineering study for the construction of a third track between Utica Avenue and New Lots Avenue using the unused trackbed in the center of the elevated structure.[39]

As part of an 18-month capital budget that took effect on January 1, 1963, the New Lots Avenue station was reconstructed.[40]

In 1968, as part of the proposed Program for Action, the IRT New Lots Line in East New York, would be extended southerly through the Livonia Yard to Flatlands Avenue to a modern terminal at Flatlands Avenue and Linwood Street. This two-track line would have run at ground level and it would have provided better access to the then-growing community of Spring Creek. This extension would have been completed at the cost of $12 million.[41][42]

Service changesEdit

2 and 3 trains kept on switching their southern terminals until July 10, 1983, when the 2 was sent to Flatbush Avenue and the 3 to New Lots Avenue, which remains the current service pattern. The purpose of this switch was so that the 3 would readily have access to the shops at Livonia Yard.[43] 4 trains were added on December 20, 1946, and 5 trains were gradually added between 1938 and 1950.

Station renovationsEdit

In 1975, the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) applied for a Mass Transportation Facilities Grant Application from the United States Department of Transportation to fund four improvement projects, including the replacement of wooden platforms with concrete platforms at Rockaway Avenue, Junius Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Van Siclen Avenue. This project was estimated to cost $1,451,000. The four projects part of this application, combined, were estimated to cost $13,801,000, with $9,661,000 to be funded by the grant, which the city requested to be reallocated from funding for urban highways. The remainder was to be funded from New York City and New York State.[44] The NYCTA invited contractors to bid on the platform replacement project in November 1976.[45]

As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s 2010–2014 Capital Program, funding was provided for a 25-station Station Renewal program, which focused on renovating stations with a high concentration of components rated 3.5 or worse on a five point scale, with 5 being the highest. All of the stations on the line, except for New Lots Avenue, were among the priority candidates to be among the 25 stations selected for the program. Between 41% and 58% of components at these six stations were rated 3.5 or worse.[46] A $45.7 million contract was awarded to renovate the line's seven stations in 2014. The project was completed between January 2015 and October 2017. As part of the project, station drainage, doors, windows, railings, platform rubbing boards, structural steel, panels and signage were replaced. In addition, detectable warning strips, bird deterrent systems, track lubrication systems and artwork were installed. The project was completed in four phases, and each phase was supposed to take five months.[47] For the first phase, the Van Siclen Avenue and Rockaway Avenue stations were closed from April 20, 2015 to March 28, 2016.[48][49] Next, from April 11, 2016 until September 19, 2016, the Saratoga Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue stations were closed for renovation.[50] The Pennsylvania Avenue station was closed once again from October 27, 2016 to March 3, 2017 due to a truck accident which damaged the station's mezzanine.[51] In the third phase, Junius Street and Sutter Avenue–Rutland Road stations were closed for renovations from October 5, 2016 to June 19, 2017.[52][53][50] In the fourth phase, which occurred simultaneously with the other phases, the New Lots Avenue station was renovated without being closed from December 2014 to December 2017.[54] The fare control area at New Lots Avenue was reconfigured.[55]

Crossing over BMT Canarsie Line.

As part of the 2015–2019 MTA Capital Program, funding was provided to build a free transfer between the Junius Street station and the nearby Livonia Avenue station on the BMT Canarsie Line, which is directly to the east of the station. Passengers can transfer between the two stations for an additional fare by using an overpass running parallel to the New Lots Line which allows pedestrians on Livonia Avenue to cross over the Long Island Rail Road's open-cut Bay Ridge Branch. At the request of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and due to increasing ridership and plans for additional housing in the area, funding was provided to build the free transfer. In addition, both stations would also have been upgraded to become compliant with mobility accessibility guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.[56] However, in the April 2018 revision to the Capital Program, funding for the project, with the exception of funding already used to design the connection, was removed.[57] A free MetroCard-only transfer between the two stations is being provided during weekends and late nights as part of the reconstruction of the 14th Street Tunnel starting in April 2019.[58][59] Funding for the free transfer connection was added back in the 2020–2024 Capital Program.[60]

Extent and serviceEdit

A view of a 3 train at Sutter Avenue–Rutland Road.

The following services use part or all of the IRT New Lots Line:[61]

  Time period
rush hours middays, evenings, and weekends late nights
  limited service no service
  service no service
  limited service no service service
  limited service no service

The line is served by the 3 train at all times except late nights, when the 4 train takes over service. Some rush hour 2 and 5 trains also run on this line because of capacity issues at their usual terminal at Flatbush Avenue–Brooklyn College on the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line.[62]

Route descriptionEdit

A view of the switch connecting the New Lots Line to Linden Yard east of the Junius Street station.

The New Lots Line is the only elevated structure on the Brooklyn IRT. The line begins just east of Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, branching off from the IRT Eastern Parkway Line near Buffalo Avenue. The line then emerges from a tunnel on the southeast corner along the eastern edge of Lincoln Terrace Park, the IRT New Lots Line then crosses a bridge over East New York Avenue and then runs over East 98th Street with only one station, until it approaches the intersection with Livonia Avenue, where the line moves over that road, and remains as such almost entirely. Right after Junius Street Station, Livonia Avenue is bisected by the Long Island Rail Road Bay Ridge Branch as well as the Linden Shops, both of which run between Junius Street and Van Sinderen Avenue, the latter of which is flanked by the BMT Canarsie Line, also an elevated line, but runs underneath the New Lots Line. The last station on the line is New Lots Avenue, which is actually two blocks west of the eastern terminus of Livonia Avenue at the street the station is named for. The New Lots Line crosses over New Lots Avenue and then Elton Street, curving to the south and terminating within the Livonia Yard.[63][3][4][5] There is a provision for a future extension from New Lots Avenue in the elevated structure at Linwood Avenue.[28]

The line includes an unused trackway in the middle that was built as a provision for a third track.[64]:2389 On the roof of the mezzanines at each station are cross ties but no rails. In some areas, the space is used for mechanical and signal rooms. A center track exists only at Junius Street, where it crosses the southbound track at grade towards the Linden Shops. This un-electrified track is one of only two connections to the national rail system. The BMT West End Line is the other connection, via the New York Connecting Railroad; the Linden Shops are connected to the Long Island Rail Road and from there to the rest of the national network.[63]

Station listingEdit

Station service legend
  Stops all times except late nights
  Stops late nights only
  Stops rush hours only
Time period details
  Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  ↑ Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
in the indicated direction only
  Elevator access to mezzanine only
  Station Services Opened Transfers and notes
Begins as continuation of IRT Eastern Parkway Line local tracks (2  3  4  5  )
Brownsville Sutter Avenue–Rutland Road 2  3  4  5   November 22, 1920[64]:2390 B15 bus to JFK Airport
Saratoga Avenue 2  3  4  5   November 22, 1920[64]:2390
Rockaway Avenue 2  3  4  5   November 22, 1920[64]:2390
Junius Street 2  3  4  5   November 22, 1920[64]:2390 MetroCard transfer to BMT Canarsie Line (L  ) at Livonia Avenue (nights and weekends)
connecting track to Linden Shops (non-electrified)
East New York Pennsylvania Avenue 2  3  4  5   December 24, 1920[64]:2390
Van Siclen Avenue 2  3  4  5   October 16, 1922[34]
New Lots Avenue 2  3  4  5   October 16, 1922[34] B15 bus to JFK Airport
Terminus of all service
Connecting tracks to Livonia Yard


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External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata