By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — More than a year after the ceiling came down at the 181st Street 1 train station, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is still drafting the best design plan for its repair.
The design process for 181st Street — as well as 168th Street, another decaying station in Washington Heights — will continue through the year, with actual repair work planned for the spring of 2012, according to MTA spokesman Marcus Book.
Book said the logistics of making repairs to the two landmarked stations, which date back to the early 1900s, have proven more challenging than most.
"It seems the original architects relied on physics to keep up the archways," he said about the stations, explaining that it will take a lot more than replacing a few bricks to properly repair the ceiling.
A metal cage has protected riders from falling debris since bricks from a 20- to 30-foot section of the arched ceiling at 181st Street station came showering down on the uptown and downtown tracks at the station on Aug. 16, 2009.
The station was closed for nearly two weeks after the collapse in order for MTA workers to secure the station.
Although far less dramatic, Book said an inspection of the similar ceiling at the 168th Street station, which showed constant leaks have weakened the ceiling structure, revealed that the station is also in need of repairs.
The MTA has estimated repairs to the landmarked ceiling at 181st Street would cost $17.5 million, reported the Manhattan Times in February 2010.
No estimates regarding the cost of repairing the 1 train station at 168th Street have yet been made public.