Main Street Station Nears Completion

There is light at the end of the tunnel . . . the Main St. subway station tunnel, that is. The Queens Courier has learned that the last phase of the $33 million station and street project will be completed late in August, following the repaving of Roosevelt Ave., between Main and Union Sts.
Slated to start during the last week in June, a two or four-week work schedule of this final phase will be decided at a meeting this Friday, according to Transit Authority spokesman Robert Slovak. In addition, some sewer, and electrical work will be done at the same time.
Upon completion, the station will feature enlarged escalators, additional staircases, elevators for the physically-handicapped, strategically-located change booths, glass-bricked walls for added light, and an enlarged lobby to handle the increased volumes of commuters.
In addition, parking meters will be removed from the 900-foot long Roosevelt Ave. with the spaces assigned for buses and truck deliveries, and sidewalks will be extended into the roadway in the vicinity of Lippmann Plaza to facilitate pedestrian crossing safety.
Councilwoman Julia Harrison, who has fought for a new and improved station that would meet the needs of a rapidly-developing downtown Flushing, called the new schedule "too little, and after 30 years, too late."
The delay-plagued project has been arbitrarily placed in various stages during the past three decades, and has been postposed regularly by four successive Mayors, primarily for the lack of funds. By 1978, it was placed in the "design stage," but in 1983 the plan was further delayed because it failed to comply with newly-enacted federal laws concerning accessibility for physically-handicapped riders.
In 1993, when City funds were withheld, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority again postponed station repairs "due to the anticipated capital funds." at that time, it was gloomily predicted that this delay could last as long as five years, which would have pushed reconstruction into the 21 Century.
In 1996, the project was approved, but was halted by a lawsuit, and last year, during construction, another postponement was caused by the failure of an English manufacturer to deliver the escalators for the east and center section of the station.
The Main St. station is one of the largest passenger generators in the City’s mass transit system. Its escalators are needed to safely and speedily transport well over 40,000 passengers daily between the Main St. station’s very narrow platforms and the street level’s bustling shopping and business districts.
Compounding the reconstruction problems, Harrison said that the station’s access and egress had always been precipitous. It’s narrow and worn staircases restricted the safe movement of commuters — particularly during rush hours.
The station lies in the juncture of 23 bus lines, and LIRR terminal, six major highway arterials, and contains 1,500 metered parking spaces at curbs or in municipal lots.

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