By Alex Davidson
Confusion, a loss of parking spaces and increased traffic seem to be the only byproducts of construction work on elevated subway tracks above three blocks of Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.
A spokesman for the city Department of Transportation said the construction work was initiated by the New York City Transit Authority and that it was the agency responsible for communicating details about track rehabilitation plans.
But James Anyansi, spokesman for the Transit Authority, a division of the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, could not give specifics on construction between 116th Street and 118th Street on the busy thoroughfare.
Anyansi said he was not aware that there were three blocks of spray-painted tarps taking up an entire lane of traffic and suspended at least 20 feet from the bottom of the elevated tracks down to the street.
He did say, however, that city workers have been rehabilitating the A train tracks between 77th and 103rd streets – a project that is estimated for completion by May 30.
“We will send somebody out there to take a look at what's going on,” Anyansi said. He was also unsure as to what kind of equipment was being stored at the site and whether it was his agency or the city DOT that was responsible for the three blocks of construction.
Anyansi was unable to get further information on the track work on Liberty Avenue before the TimesLedger went to press.
Subway service has not been stopped due to the construction, but area business owners are up in arms over the project.
Two visits to the site revealed concrete barriers dividing the three blocks of tarp-covered roadway from traffic, which has been forced into one lane because construction vehicles are taking up the other lane on the busy street. Frequent traffic jams have been blocking up Liberty Avenue as drivers are forced to wait for cars to pass in one direction before they are clear to travel in the other direction.
The constant bus and pedestrian traffic also add to the congestion.
A cashier at Liberty Fruit and Produce, one of the businesses next to the subway work, said the construction is beginning to stop customers from coming into her store.
“Actually, it's annoying. Due to the construction business is slow,” said Nesha, who did not want to give her last name. “It really is an inconvenience for our customers.”
Nesha said the construction in front of her store on 117th Street began three weeks ago and has eliminated at least five parking spots out front where patrons usually park. She said the work, which has been performed in piece-by-piece fragments, is not allowing people to get into the store and is encouraging them to go other places with better parking facilities.
The owner of the Richmond Hill Variety Store, who did not want to give his full name, works across from Liberty Fruit and Produce, and said the construction has added to the noise level in the neighborhood. He said he stays inside his shop to avoid dealing with the work outside his store.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.