June 22, 2018 By Tara Law
The MTA reopened the 30th and 36th Avenue (N/W) subway stations at noon today after completing eight months of renovations.
The MTA completed extensive structural and aesthetic upgrades at the century-old stations, including the repair and replacement of steel beams and columns, platforms and concrete.
NYC Transit President Andy Byford toured the 30th Avenue station on Friday morning along with a group of contractors and journalists. Byford pointed out a number of changes and upgrades at the station, including new bolts throughout the platform.
Byford also spent time during the tour addressing criticisms of the project.
Many residents and local business owners have questioned whether the improvements were worth the inconvenience of the closures.
Byford said that while the MTA included some aesthetic repairs, the MTA’s priority was to assure that the stations are structurally sound.
“Of course, while we’ve got the station closed we’re going to make it nicer for our customers, but this is work is primarily about addressing the state-of-good repair,” said Byford.
Byford said that he recognizes some local businesses had lost revenue as a result of the repairs, but said that to some extent, a disruption was “inevitable.” He said the MTA remained in contact with local businesses throughout the project, added additional bus service along the line, and helped to advertise the local retail strip.
He also responded to critics who have argued that the repairs should have included the installation of elevators, saying the MTA will install more elevators “as quickly as we can.”
The ten-year plan he introduced last March calls for 130 elevators to be installed within the next ten years, Byford said.
“We haven’t forgotten about elevators for this station— they will happen,” said Byford.
Before he left the station, Byford paused to talk to groups of station customers, including Sayid and Lizette Jaffri, the owners of the small grocery store Sai Organics on 30th Avenue.
The couple said after speaking to Byford that they had lost 25 to 30 percent of their profits in the time the station was closed.
They claimed that they had not seen the increased bus service boost their sales at all, and that they wished the MTA had provided a shuttle bus service throughout the project.
However, both said that they were fortunate because their business survived the closure.
“Not everybody can survive— some people went out of business. We are the lucky ones.” said Lizette Jaffri. “We’ve been here for 15 years, so we had enough savings to survive it.”
For some Astoria businesses, the disruption is only beginning. The MTA will complete similar renovations at the Broadway and 39th Avenue (N/W) stations will close for eight months starting July 2.