BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A Long Island City resident is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make a local subway station and bus stop safer for the community, arguing that they are difficult to navigate for the disabled and elderly.
Gabriel Gherasim told the Queens Tribune this week that he is hoping to draw attention to the 36th Avenue/31st Street subway station and bus stop, so that the MTA improves safety at the sites.
Last month, the MTA announced that it would close the 30th and 36th avenues subway stops on western Queens’ N and W lines until June 2018 to allow for renovations that would include repairs to the entrances, staircases, security cameras, LED cameras and windscreens on the platforms. Since the announcement, there have been protests by the community and local elected officials regarding the lack of improvements to make the stations compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Gherasim said that since the stations have closed, the streets underneath the elevated lines have been busier, with traffic as well as repairs to the station cluttering the area.
While protests regarding the upgrades have primarily targeted the need for adding ADA-compliant elevators at the subway stops, Gherasim said that he is equally concerned about changes to local bus stops.
He said that the MTA relocated the 39th Avenue/31st Street Q102 bus stop from the Manhattan side of the subway station—located next to the subway stairs—to the middle of 31st Street, which is heavily trafficked.
“Persons using walkers, canes, adults with children are facing the dangerous path of navigating heavy traffic, parked cars, icy roads, bumps on the pedestrian side and on the street,” said Gherasim.
When the MTA closed the two Astoria subway stops, the agency said that passengers could take the Q102 to get to the 39th Avenue subway stop.
“If the MTA, which is the cause of all the chaos generated from these repairs, preserved the safeguards, which they were obligated to maintain, after losing several lawsuits from advocacy groups of the citizens with disabilities, they would be prioritizing the passengers’ safety when altering these routes,” said Gherasim. “However, this organization puts in peril both passengers with disabilities and passengers with little children, due to the disregard it has been showing in addressing their needs, between the Astoria Street and the 39th Avenue subway and bus stops.”
Gherasim said that if a person with a disability were to fall or suffer injury as a result of the bus stop change, it could result in a lawsuit against the MTA.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Q102 bus stop was originally moved last year to accommodate the construction of a bus bulb and installation of bus pads. Last month the DOT completed that work and the Q102 bus stop was supposed to return to 31st Street at 39th Avenue within that same month.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.