MTA must fix 7 train’s elevated tracks before someone gets hurt, officials say

Debris that fell from the 7 train's elevated tracks in Woodside on Wednesday prompted crews to remove other potentially hazardous materials from the underside of the 61st Street-Woodside station. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

“The only reason people haven’t died yet is because of luck,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Debris that fell from the 7 train's elevated tracks in Woodside on Wednesday prompted crews to remove other potentially hazardous materials from the underside of the 61st Street-Woodside station.
Debris that fell from the 7 train’s elevated tracks in Woodside on Wednesday prompted crews to remove other potentially hazardous materials from the underside of the 61st Street-Woodside station. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Elected officials rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday, demanding the MTA take immediate action to repair the infrastructure supporting the 7 train’s elevated tracks in Queens.

The call comes one day after a piece of rusted debris dropped from the underside of the tracks along Roosevelt Avenue near 62nd Street in Woodside. The metal slammed into a moving vehicle and cracked its windshield, according to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the neighborhood.

No one was injured in the incident, but Van Bramer and other officials want the MTA to secure the infrastructure before someone is seriously injured or killed.

“The only reason people haven’t died yet, is because of luck,” Van Bramer said at the rally Thursday.

From left: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Daniel Dromm, Peter Koo and Francisco Moya at City Hall on Thursday.
From left: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Daniel Dromm, Peter Koo and Francisco Moya at City Hall on Thursday. Photo Credit: Ivan Pereira

The MTA, which inspected the area and deemed it safe, is looking into whether the debris was knocked loose when a truck hit the structure supporting the tracks near the same area on Tuesday.

"The safety of our riders, employees and neighbors is paramount, and this was an extremely serious incident that we are taking aggressive action on," an authority spokesman said Thursday. "We’ve launched a full scale investigation and will be inspecting the entire system, with a special focus on these types of connections, using a combination of internal resources and outside experts in order to complete it in the minimal amount of time possible."

At the rally, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson renewed his call for the city to retake control of the state-run subways.

“The MTA has stood idly for too long while the structure of the elevated rails deteriorate,” Johnson said. “Where is the accountability? It is 150 miles north of here.”

Van Bramer, who went to the scene of the incident Wednesday and held the piece of metal that struck the vehicle, questioned whether a truck could cause it to fall.

"There’s no way … enough with the reasons," he added.

Nearly two weeks ago, the New York City Transit President Andy Byford had vowed the agency would inspect “every inch of elevated tracks” in the city after a wooden beam fell from the 7 train tracks in Woodside. The beam pierced through the windshield of a vehicle, narrowly missing the driver seat.

The MTA said inspections in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx were completed on Feb. 28 and all elevated tracks were deemed safe.

The rusted debris and wood beam fell just two blocks away from each other.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an unrelated event Thursday, said Wednesday’s incident was “totally unacceptable.”

“This is another example that a clear accountability … for the MTA, doesn’t exist,” he added.

All of the subway system’s tracks are visually inspected on a weekly basis, according to the authority, and the elevated structures get a look once a year. However, the MTA has begun to reassess its inspection process following the incidents in Woodside.

Lauren Cook and Ivan Pereira