October 20, By Tara Law
Four Astoria subway stations on the N/W line are about to undergo a $150 million overhaul with the MTA installing new turnstiles, digital screens, LED lights, benches, and a staircase– but no elevators.
The upgrades are part of an initiative by Governor Cuomo to overhaul 30 stations across the city. The renovations will include structural repairs, a revamp of the mezzanines and platforms, a new staircase at the 30th avenue station, new countdown clocks and security cameras.
Renovations of the 30th and 36th Avenue stations will begin on Oct. 23, and the two stations will be closed until spring 2018. Following their completion, the 39th Avenue and Broadway stations will then be closed for seven months for their revamp.
Members of Community Board 1, which covers Astoria, voiced concern that elevators were not being added to the stations at its monthly meeting Tuesday after the MTA presented its plans.
Board members claimed that the MTA was neglecting the elderly, disabled, and parents with young children, many of whom depend on elevators to use the subway.
Luke DePalma, an MTA representative who spoke to the board, said that four new elevators would be added to the Astoria Boulevard station in coming years. In addition to the elevators, he said, the MTA’s fully-accessible bus fleet provides service across the neighborhood – including connections to other accessible stations on other subway lines.
But this was not enough for most board members.
“I think your response about ADA accessibility at the other stations is pretty poor, with all due respect,” said board member Katie Ellman. “And I think it’s pretty disheartening for community members who have disabilities, and also people with children that may need to use strollers.…”
Community board member Daniel Aliberti said he was frustrated that the MTA had not consulted the community before deciding not to install elevators.
Alberti said he is worried that the MTA is not “leveling the playing field for all citizens” in a neighborhood with a high concentration of elderly and disabled people. The improvements may be intended to improve the traffic flow, Aliberti said, but these changes will leave out many people.