By Sarina Trangle
As two massive projects alter the landscape of the Kew Gardens Interchange, the state announced it secured something for another kind of commuter — straphangers.
The state Department of Transportation unveiled Tuesday a new entrance to the Briarwood/Van Wyck E and F train station located on the northern side of Queens Boulevard. The entrance had been shuttered since August 2012 as crews worked on widening the Van Wyck Expressway, state DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said.
The new entrance features a stylized glass and stainless steel canopy, a wider staircase, improved lighting and new wall and floor tiles. DOT said an elevator will be installed by fall 2015 and the station is also due for landscaping work, sidewalks and new concrete pavement.
In total, the state said it has budgeted $14 million for improvements to the station, which includes the construction of a new entrance on the southern side of Queens Boulevard in August 2012 and a tunnel underneath the Van Wyck.
Several elected officials praised the entrance’s debut.
“The reopening of the Briarwood/Van Wyck station is a welcome relief for the Briarwood community,” state Assemblywoman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing). “Thank you to New York State DOT and their contractor for overcoming all the obstacles they encountered on this project and getting it done before the coming winter season.”
The Kew Gardens Interchange, which includes the intersection of the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike, is undergoing two major projects.
The first, $152 million initiative involves reconstructing a half-mile section of the Van Wyck south of the interchange, adding auxiliary lanes to it near the airport, constructing a dedicated southbound exit lane onto Hillside Avenue, revamping the eastbound Queens Boulevard exit ramp, reconstructing six bridges over the Van Wyck as well as several landscaping and aesthetic touches. It is slated to conclude in 2016.
The second $113 million project involves replacing the northbound Van Wyck viaduct, reworking the northbound Van Wyck up to 72nd Avenue, replacing and widening the ramp connecting the eastbound Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike with the Van Wyck and improving drainage system.
Back in November, the state announced the new 800-foot viaduct built beside the existing roadway was completed 18 months ahead of schedule. The rest of that contract is expected to conclude by early 2017.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4546.