Risky conditions plague some MTA stations, local officials say
Busted support columns, long cracks along already weakened retaining walls and crumbling elevated structures.
These are the potentially dangerous conditions that straphangers have lived with for years at some subway stations, despite the complaints of local officials.
New Yorkers got a wake-up call to the the sorry state of some MTA stations when in August a huge swatch of the ceiling in the 181st Street station on the No. 1 collapsed. Community board leaders said they had been voicing their concerns about safety at the station to transit officials for three years prior.
But it turned out that the 181 Street station was not alone in needing fixes.
A 2008 systemwide survey of 100,000 stairways, platforms and other parts of stations found that about a third of them were in disrepair, according to agency documents.
“That is an unacceptable situation,” said Robert Cumella, deputy chief for the MTA’s capital planning division.
For years, the MTA would only rehab a subway stop 35 years after its last spruce up. But recently, the agency decided that parts of stations which received a failing grade would be repaired without having to wait the 35 years. The agency intends to make fixes at 50 subway stations by 2014 and eliminate failing grades from the system within the next 15 years, Cumella said.
In the meantime, amNewYork profiles some stations local advocates have flagged as being in dire need of repair:J/Z stations in Queens
Pedestrians walking along busy Jamaica Avenue should be ready to duck, as concrete chunks and large bolts have rained down from the elevated J/Z line in Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, according to local officials.
“Our complaints have fallen on deaf ears,” said Maria Thomson, director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, who said she has reported the hazardous conditions to the MTA for two decades.
The agency painted the elevated line serving about 15,000 weekday straphangers in Queens. But few repairs have been made on the crumbling support structure, Thomson said, and local officials worry that someone will get hurt by a failing chunk of concrete.
The MTA agreed that the line needs work. In the 2008 survey, engineers gave 85 percent of the 104th Street station in Woodhaven a failing grade.Smith-9th Street in Brooklyn
The concrete posts bolstering the system’s highest elevated station aren’t aging gracefully.
Built in 1933, several of the columns have cracks running up the cement, and one post is missing a four-inch thick wedge of concrete the height of a person.
“It’s very dangerous. You never know what’s going to happen,” said Salah Hassen, owner of a deli that is in front of the crumbling column.
The MTA has begun a $179 million rehab of the station, which serves 4,500 commuters daily. Workers wrapped the columns in supportive gauze, but the material does not cover the lower portions of the posts with the cracking.
Members of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA said they complained in recent months about the frightening disrepairs, but have yet to get a response.The N line in southern Brooklyn
Homeowners along the N train have placed a lot of faith in the line’s structural soundness.
Houses along the train between Bay Ridge and Gravesend are built up to the stations, with a pitted retaining wall acting as the only barrier preventing backyards from spilling onto the tracks. Over the years, cracks over 20 feet long have formed along the retaining wall. Trees and vegetation growing out of the wall have contributed to weakening it, transit advocates said.
“You just don’t know when a slide could start,” said Andrew Albert, a MTA board member.
The stations, serving about 47,000 weekday riders, haven’t been overhauled in recent memory, Albert said. The MTA intended to begin rehabbing the stops in 2007, but postponed the improvements until 2012.