Monday, August 31, 2009

Bolts from Above: Elevated Subway Tracks Dropping Parts on Jamaica Avenue by Lisa Colangelo - NY Daily News

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Maria Thompson of Woodhaven Development Corp, Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Council member Elizabeth Crowley address issues at elevated "J" train along Jamaica Ave. Anderson/News

Steel bolts from the structure have come loose and dropped to the ground, alarmed local leaders said.

"People walk into my office all the time with these bolts," said Maria Thompson of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp., as a J train rumbled above her head.

Thompson gathered with a group of local officials this week and called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to dip into its capital funds and pay for an extensive rehabilitation of the elevated tracks, which currently carry the J and Z train lines.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said she doesn't know how much a renovation would cost, but argued it's a more worthy project than the multibillion-dollar Second Ave. subway construction in Manhattan.

"They should fix what is currently being used before they start a new project," she said.

The long stretch of overhead tracks that runs through Jamaica, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to the Brooklyn-Queens border is marred by peeling paint, rusted metal and cracked cement.

"This is what happens when you neglect steel for far too long," Crowley said.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said the MTA has done patchwork repairs on the tracks, but can't remember the last time it was painted.

"I'm pretty sure some of this is from when I was a kid," said Addabbo, who is 45. "We're long overdue for a major renovation."

In a statement, MTA officials said the proposed 2010-1014 capital plan has more than $500 million set aside for rehabilitation, painting and other enhancements.

They said repairs are planned for 7.3miles of elevated tracks along the Jamaica line, Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park viaducts, but did not provide specifics.

Thompson, who has been pushing to get the tracks a new paint job for almost 15 years, said the sad state of the train line is a sore subject for Jamaica Ave. merchants who are struggling to stay afloat.

"The storeowners try hard to keep their properties clean," she said. "This is very disheartening for them."