By Mark Hallum
The MTA board approved an amendment to the 2015-2019 capital plan to make 17 stations, including three in Queens, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant by installing elevators as well as redesigning stairwells and mezzanines to help the flow of people during busy hours.
About $200 million will go toward elevators and other ADA accessible improvements to the Astoria Boulevard station on N/W lines, Court Square to the G line and the Woodhaven Boulevard stop on the J line.
“We are putting an increased focus on accessibility with all of our planning moving forward, and this plan amendment is a direct result of that promise,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “We have a lot more work to do, but this plan amendment – as well as our board working group on accessibility and the commitment of NYC Transit President Andy Byford — demonstrate our commitment to accessibility for all of our customers.”
The Astoria Boulevard station will have four elevators installed with two rising from the street to the elevated mezzanine and two more taking riders from the mezzanine up to the platforms.
The station will be closed in February 2019 for nine months as reconstruction brings improvements to the station along with the elevators.
This station overhaul will begin as similar work will be completed in June 30 on the 30th and 36th avenue stations on the N/W lines for infrastructure repairs which closed the two in October.
But while elected officials praised the coming of ADA-accessibility at the Astoria station, they voiced opposition to the closure of the 30th and 36th avenue stations.
“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 2015-2019 capital plan already includes $400 million to replace 69 existing elevators and escalators, though the MTA did not confirm before press time whether the escalator at the Woodside-61st Street station which has been closed for extended periods of time for repeated repairs in the past year would be included.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall