By Bill Parry
One Queens lawmaker and a group of straphangers are urging the MTA to perform an immediate survey and review of the 7 train viaduct in Sunnyside after a chunk of concrete loosened and fell to the ground at 41st Street and Queens Boulevard last Friday.
Although no one was hurt, state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City) fired off a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, calling the incident an alarming situation as many residents of her community walk and drive near the vicinity of the viaduct.
“This structure was rebuilt in the early 1990s using capital funds; our community has been repeatedly assured that the structure would last over 50 years,” Nolan wrote. “This failure, after only a few decades, is shocking.”
Access Queens, a coalition of infrastructure advocates and riders of the beleaguered No. 7 subway line, released a statement saying this could have been a tragic event.
“Incidents like this are unacceptable,” they wrote. “We are calling on the MTA to determine the structural integrity along the entirety of the viaduct to ensure the public’s safety and provide the public with a thorough and transparent report that outlines what occurred and any safety measures that will be put into place. The MTA must ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”
The MTA explained that water caused a one-foot-square section of concrete to dislodge from the underside of the steel-reinforced viaduct and the material serves as protection for the steel having no structural impact if lost. The agency declared the 7 train viaduct is structurally sound and that New York City Transit personnel responded to the scene immediately to check the structure.
“Safety is our number one priority — the area of the incident was tested immediately and the viaduct is safe,” MTA Spokesman Shams Tarek said. “We’re also conducting a comprehensive inspection of the viaduct this year.”
New York City Transit personnel conducted an annual visual inspection of the structure last month.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr