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Rockaway bridge bane of A train riders' commutes

The MTA will begin an assessment for a full rehabilitation in the coming months.

The South Channel Bridge in the Rockaways has

The South Channel Bridge in the Rockaways has sufferend several malfunctions this year, causing severe delays for A train riders. Photo Credit: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Equipment failures on a Queens bridge are leaving A train riders stranded.

On at least three occasions this year, the line’s swing South Channel Bridge — which Rockaway riders rely on to get out of the peninsula — failed to close over Jamaica Bay, causing delays on the A for more than an hour.

On those occasions the MTA had to divert trains and send out bridge maintainers to close the span manually. On Jan. 14, the first incident resulted in delays lasting for an hour and 26 minutes. The bridge again was stuck open on Sept. 11, causing delays for an hour and 50 minutes. It failed for a third time last week on Nov. 7.

Joe Hartigan, a Rockaway resident and retired FDNY firefighter, said the issues make “you want to get off the train and take the bus.”

“People need that train,” Hartigan said. “We have one of the longest commutes without delays, so this makes it unbearable.”

The bridge, which is more than 60 years old, was part of the 3.6 miles of track on the Rockaway line that was badly damaged by superstorm Sandy. It has drawn the ire of locals in the past, with some complaining that it gives too much priority to passing boats in the bay. The MTA acknowledged that the bridge periodically has faced challenges returning to a closed position, and said it is hoping to overhaul its controls.

The MTA will begin an assessment for a full rehabilitation in the next couple of months, according to the authority, although a timeline for the complete overhaul remains unclear.

“This bridge is vital for train service to and from the Rockaways,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement. “And we’re in the planning phase of a full rehabilitation that will help ensure its reliable operation for decades to come.”

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