BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Following rallies by western Queens leaders and residents to call on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make accessibility upgrades at the Astoria Boulevard subway station, the MTA has announced that the project will soon be underway.
At Community Board 1’s transportation committee meeting on April 11, the MTA announced an upgrade project at the Astoria Boulevard’s N and W subway station that will include elevators and accessibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Astoria Boulevard project will include four elevators, two street-to-mezzanine elevators and another two mezzanine-to-platform elevators. In addition, the project will include replacements and repairs of structural columns and foundations; the replacement of damaged concrete platform surfaces, street and platform stairs, platform roofs and the mezzanine overpass walkway; repairs to light posts, signs and gates; and accessibility upgrades to platform gaps, boarding areas, stairs and railings.
“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,” said Andy Byford, the president of New York City Transit. “We are continuing to spend billions of dollars on accessibility throughout the entire subway system. The system-wide study that’s underway now, combined with future funding in the MTA capital plan, will provide the path forward to even more accessibility improvements.”
The installation of the elevators requires the complete demolition and reconstruction of the station’s mezzanine. Therefore, following the completion of nearby station improvements along the N and W lines, the Astoria Boulevard station will be fully closed for approximately nine months to allow for the project.
Currently, the 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations are closed for structural repairs and upgrades, and are scheduled to reopen at the end of June. Following the reopening, the nearby Broadway and 39th Avenue stations will close in July for upgrades.
“The MTA’s announcement is bittersweet,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “The planned ADA accessibility updates at the Astoria Boulevard station are a long time coming. Our community has spent years advocating for elevators at the station to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, parents with strollers and seniors. 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 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 accessibility upgrades at Astoria Blvd are part of a $1 billion 2015-2019 MTA capital program that will add accessibility to 19 stations and includes $427 million to replace 42 elevators and escalators that already exist.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, email@example.com or @reporter_ariel.