It's been talked about for more than two decades, but now the shovel's in the ground on the first new Staten Island Railway station in more than 40 years. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Staten Island Railway riders might miss the train, but they sure won't miss the graffiti at the decrepit Atlantic and Nassau stations.
"This here is like, forget it. It's the pits," said one rider.
"It looks like a total mess. There's no upkeep, nobody takes care of nothing," noted another rider.
The neighboring stations near the end of the line will be torn down by the end of 2015, when the long-planned Arthur Kill station finally opens a short distance between them.
It's an improvement that riders say is way overdue at stations that serve just 540 riders on weekdays.
"You sit here and you're like, 'Oh my God.' You're waiting for something to fall down on you," said one rider.
On Friday, officials from the MTA joined local politicians to break ground on the project.
"While the majority of SIR stations were upgraded in the 1990s, the new Arthur Kill station is the first station built for the modern commuter," said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco.
The new station will also include a parking lot for 150 cars across Arthur Kill Road.
"Park-and-Ride is so important to get additional people on public transportation," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.
But getting to the groundbreaking wasn't exactly a smooth ride.
The plan to build a new Arthur Kill station has been around since the early 1990s, but the project never got off the ground because of budget constraints. Once the station opens, it will be the first Staten Island Railway station built since the MTA took over the private railroad in 1971.
"Everybody wanted to see it happen. We just had to find a way to make it happen," said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
And while riders may grumble about the grimy stations, they still know a good deal when they see one.
"It's free. Anywhere you gotta go, it's free. Who would complain about that?" said one rider.
Building the new station won't be cheap, though. It comes with a $27 million price tag, but the funding is finally in place through the MTA's Capital Program.