Feb. 8, 2018 By Tara Law
Queens lawmakers and the MTA are at odds over the agency’s $22 million plan to overhaul the Ditmars Boulevard subway station in Astoria.
The MTA plans to spend 14 months fixing the station and argues that the project is necessary to restore the crumbling platforms and stairs, which are hazardous for riders. The station will not be closed while it does the work, which is expected to begin in April.
The elected officials, who were only made aware of the plans Monday, argue that they were blindsided by the MTA’s plans and argue that the community should have been given a say on what is needed and its implementation.
Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and State Senator Michael Gianaris held a rally Thursday afternoon at the station to chastise the MTA for the plans.
They complain that the MTA failed to solicit community feedback, and that the plans do not include elevators to make the station handicap accessible, and will not improve service. Given these issues, they question whether the inconvenience is worth it.
Their frustration comes in the wake of the closures of the 30th and 36th Avenue stations (set to reopen in June), and the impending closures of the 39th Avenue and Broadway stations.
The officials have criticized the MTA for not adding elevators to these four stations and said that the work has been disruptive for commuters and businesses.
The Ditmars Boulevard overhaul, which is set to begin in April, will not lead to a complete closure of the station like the other renovations. However, the project will require 100 feet of staging, some of which will block off parking spaces on 31st Street.
The MTA counters that the stations, which have not been renovated since 1917, are crumbling and are potentially dangerous for commuters.
The MTA released details of what is planned for the Ditmars Station. The plans include replacing the wooden stairs, which the MTA says are hazardous.
A new roof will be installed to prevent water from dripping through and freezing on the platforms, and decaying structural columns, beams and girders will be repaired and replaced.
The platforms, which the MTA says are low and uneven, will also be replaced.
“We are replacing steel, we are replacing concrete. We are replacing platforms. We are replacing all the things that keep this standing up,” said Jon Weinstein, Director of Communications and Senior Advisor to the Chair of the MTA.
The elected officials conceded at the rally that the stations needed work. However, they expressed concern that the MTA had not consulted with them or the public prior to announcing the project on Monday.
They claim that they would have told the MTA to prioritize improvements such as elevators to improve accessibility. They say that the MTA should focus on that as opposed to public art, WiFi and benches, which they say are also part of the renovations.
Constantinides described the MTA’s rollout as “tone deaf.”
“Our seniors who cannot climb stairs cannot access these new upgrades. Our disabled community members cannot access these upgrades,” Constantinides said. “Our families with strollers, who are here today in this cold with their children, are here to say they want to be able to get to the train.”
Gianaris said that the MTA is too focused on the aesthetics of the station.
“The MTA is squandering what money it doesn’t have to make the experience more attractive, so while we’re waiting for trains that never come, we can look around and see nice art,” he said.
Simotas noted that she has received numerous complaints from small business owners who claim the current station repairs are hurting their bottom line.
“They have a fraction of the foot traffic they used to have,” Simotas said of the businesses. “The MTA really has to understand how much these projects disrupt the community— business owners, residents— and all for what? For stations that aren’t accessible?”
businesses are already suffering along 30th ave and 36th. They should have pulled out the podium before this shit show started.
You don’t hear them speaking out against the over development of the area.
ahh another nice photo op. Missed the traveling podium Costas
What a waste of $22million. Loan me a pickup truck… I’ll head to Junction Blvd and pick up a few gentlemen.. They’ll do it for $22,000. We’ll call it a deal.
How are these elected officials blindsided. Are they not aware that planning has been going on? Do they not ask questions? Do they not request documents?
they know all about what is going on they like to play dumb more money in their pockets for sure
DITMARS STATION appears to me to be the second most busiest station on this line, second maybe to only Queens Borough Plaza. People come from many parts of Queens via the bus line that stops at the corner of 31st Street and Ditmars Blvd.
The buses appear to be always busy and crowded.
There are possible ways of truly finding out the amount of riders that enter the stations and that should be accomplished by finding out a count of swipes of the Metro Card, etc…
It appears to me that one specific group keeps complaining about the Astoria Blvd station and wants for elevators, and that group is a group of mostly young adults who’s kids attend the PS 85 school. This school already has gotten taxpayer funding to air condition the school due to their noise complaints of the subways that pass by.
PS. 85 has been in existence since 1907. Multitudes have attended this school throughout the years without air conditioning, and without elevators at the Astoria Blvd Station. Never a complaint from the parents or from the students of yesteryear but you hear the complaints from these Generation Y people, over and over again, their opinions never stop coming at us.
It’s one thing and than another.
As the old saying goes –
Give em an inch and they’ll take a mile.
PS 85 attendance is only to Grade 5 and their attendance is a little over 6oo when most schools go to grade 8 and have an attendance of 1,000 to 1,200 students. This school has a wonderful playground compared to most public schools. Looks as if some good money went into this playground. Appears to me that the squeaky wheels of this school get allot the grease.
Try driving through the streets around this school at dismissal.
The side streets are blocked by illegally parked cars of the parents whom children attend this school. Al least thats what I’ve seen. I avoid driving in this area at that time because of this.
Elevators are expensive to install and to maintain so Ive got the solution. Install elevators at DITMARS Station and the parents can walk from Ditmars to PS 85. Its only 2 quick blocks, a five-minute walk, and its only for about 9 months out of a year.
To walk shouldn’t be a problem for young people.
you always have to remember it was named after the elder Vallone – so there lies to
problem too — I use to go to this school and walked 3 blocks these people are out of line here now —
What a tone deaf attitude. Hopefully you never have to be old or injured or disabled in this city. O
LD- Yours is the newly created mentality that attacks competency and ambition. You’re attacking PS85 for having a better play ground and air conditioning when you would be better serving your neighbors by asking why the other schools are sitting with a “lesser” playground and without air conditioning. Fox News has eroded your ability to think. The Clinton foundation must be corrupt because it’s properly managed has spilled over to your everyday thinking.
Work on the other stations in Astoria has already begun. IMO, the Ditmars station is a poor choice to become “handicapped accessible” with elevators. They should have made the Astoria Blvd Station “handicapped accessible” because it is so much bigger compared to the this and other stations around here and the area under the train at Astoia Blvd is predominately empty with few buildings or business. The area by the park and bus stop (31 street/Hoyat Ave N) across with the street from the diner would of been a great place for elevators.
Astoria Blvd will be getting elevators sometime in the next four years as part of a separate initiative.