By Albert Baldeo
The Metropolitan Transit Authority must be reminded about its public commitment, promise and obligation to complete the wheelchair-accessible elevator at the busy Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue subway stop, in the heart of the Richmond Hill/Ozone Park community. This $29 million project, ongoing since 2014, was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016, but unpalatable excuses abound each time we enquire about the constantly deferred completion date.
Seniors, pregnant mothers, kids, the physically challenged, students, workers, indeed, everyone in our tax paying community would benefit greatly from this elevator which makes mobility and travel easier. Residents would love to see this project completed. The MTA will also benefit from increased revenues.
The Richmond Hill community is one of the few communities that does not have any escalators or elevators serving subway patrons, which raises serious concerns.
Moreover, the failure to complete this project has forced the closure of the adjacent main stairway, affecting businesses and the local economy, and congesting traffic. The fencing, construction and accumulating garbage are an eye sore, and present a danger to public safety.
The MTA must recognize that it is failing in its duty to make access easier for residents with disabilities, contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Indeed, the nonprofit Center for Independence of the Disabled New York just filed a lawsuit against the MTA for lack of elevator access citywide. Richmond Hill/Ozone Park residents may also bring a class action law suit against the entity.
As a matter of customer obligation and due compliance with our laws, this project is long overdue, and must be completed now!