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Queens Chronicle

Briarwood station closer to renaming

State Sen. Tony Avella, area civic association rally for name change

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:30 am

By the time the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn, the Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd. subway station may finally have a new, revamped name.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in March to shorten the name of the station to simply Briarwood passed the legislative body on June 18.

On Friday, Avella, the Briarwood Community Association and a handful of residents rallied across the street from the station’s entrance and celebrated the change they expect to come.

“It makes no sense to have a dual name when the second part of the name is confusing to riders,” Avella said. “If anything, the name of the station should not only reflect the name of the community, but it should also be simple for transit riders to understand the station they’re getting off at.”

An accompanying piece of legislation, introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) in January 2013, passed the state Assembly on June 19.

Avella said he hopes and expects Gov. Cuomo will sign the bill into law sometime in the fall.

The station, originally named Van Wyck Boulevard, opened in 1937 and predominantly serves the F train, as well as the E train on nights and weekends.

Construction of the Van Wyck Expressway involved paving over the boulevard in the 1950s, but the station’s name remained the same until the 1990s, when the word Briarwood was added.

Briarwood Community Association President Seymour Schwartz said the station’s name change is more than a decade overdue.

“For 13 years, we have asked for a change in the name of our station,” Schwartz said. “Some years ago, they met us halfway and they renamed it Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd.”

Both Schwartz and Avella said one of the biggest reasons for the proposed change is to avoid confusion between the Briarwood stop and the Jamaica-Van Wyck station, which is served by the E train.

“For most people, there are two stations called Van Wyck Boulevard,” Schwartz said. “[It’s] a point of serious confusion.”

The proposed legislation, if signed by Cuomo, would require the MTA to update all signage, maps and any other items issued by the agency with the new name of the station within 180 days of the bill’s signing into law.

Avella said there is no better time to change the name of station than now, as the subway stop is undergoing extensive renovations as part of the Kew Gardens Interchange Project.

“I’m hoping that [the MTA] sees this is really not only in the best interest of the community, but in the best interest of the ridership,” he said, “and that we get this done as soon as possible, given the fact that the station is under renovation.”

While the station’s signage would change, the mosaic tiling featuring the original name of the station will remain due to cost factors.

“Now is the time to do it,” Avella said, “where the littlest amount of expense to the taxpayers and the MTA is incurred.”

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