By Bill Parry
After decades of complaints from the Astoria community about the lack of accessibility at subway stations along the N/W line, the MTA announced Tuesday that four elevators would be installed at the Astoria Boulevard station, beginning this summer.
The project will include a pair of street-to-mezzanine elevators as well as another two mezzanine-to-platform elevators. The installation of the street elevators will require the complete demolition and reconstruction of the entire station mezzanine, which will also be raised to reduce strikes by trucks driving underneath.
“I’ve made accessibility one of my top priorities since the moment I arrived at New York City Transit and am thrilled that we’re bringing elevators to this critical intermodal hub that connects to LaGuardia Airport,” NYC Transit President Andrew Byford said. “We are continuing to spend billions of dollars on accessibility throughout the entire subway system. The systemwide study that’s underway now, combined with future funding in the MTA capital plan, will provide the path forward to even more accessibility improvements.”
Work at the Astoria Boulevard station is expected to get underway in September and the station will remain open for service until work is completed at nearby stations in February 2019. The Astoria Boulevard station will then fully close for nine months for the reconstruction project, which will accommodate the four new elevators.
“Our community has been waiting for an accessible station on the N/W line for decades, and the news about Astoria Boulevard was a long time coming,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Still, the MTA is not doing nearly enough to cushion the blow that will come with the extended station closure during construction. We’re already dealing with closing businesses and inconvenienced riders where other stations are closed. The MTA needs to do more to help our community deal with yet another months-long shutdown.”
The MTA closed the 30th and 36th avenue stations in October for massive infrastructure repairs. They will reopen in June. The Broadway and 39th Avenue stations will be closed for seven months beginning in July and work at the Ditmars Boulevard station begins this month and is scheduled to be completed by June 2019, with the station remaining open throughout the project.
“Our community has spent years advocating for elevators at the station to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and seniors.,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “However, our community’s experience with the MTA’s 30th Avenue station closure has left us with many burdens, concerns, and unanswered questions. While closing the station will bring some negative effects to our neighborhood during the construction, including longer commute times and more crowded stations, the added accessibility features will bring essential long-term infrastructure improvements to the station. I will continue to hold the authority accountable on this and other similar projects.”
The MTA says it will perform community outreach to nearby businesses and other properties which will precede the project, while a major notification effort including extra personnel, signage, social media and advertisements will help ensure that customers and neighbors are prepared for any disruptions.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr