Ongoing construction might not result in the only change coming to the Briarwood-Van Wyck Boulevard subway stop this year.
Legislation put forth by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last Thursday would require the MTA to remove the reference to Van Wyck Boulevard in the station’s name, instead calling it just “Briarwood.”
The legislation is identical to that introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) in January 2013, which has floundered in the legislative body ever since.
Avella believes the nonsensical name of the station has needed an alteration for years and changing it now, while construction on a new entrance continues, is the perfect time to do so.
“There’s no connection anyway to the Van Wyck Boulevard. The road doesn’t exist,” Avella said. “I think it’s appropriate to have it called just Briarwood. While we’re doing the construction, we might as well make the change.”
The station, originally named Van Wyck Boulevard, opened in 1937 and 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.
Avella says the legislation, which would require the MTA to change all signage and maps referring to the station’s name, has a “reasonable chance” of passing during the current legislative session, and the funds required for the project should not be sizable.
“The cost would be minimal at this time. This should be a priority while we’re doing construction,” he said. “The old name has no real connection to the community, the new name actually would.”
Briarwood Action Network President Aida Vernon disagrees with Avella, saying that any amount of time or money spent changing the name would be better used in another fashion.
“I’m not sure why it’s going through the state Senate. It has to do with transit and the MTA,” Vernon said. “It does not strike me as the most pressing issue in the Briarwood area.”
Vernon acknowledged that some residents have clamored for the change in recent years, but that its current name is still accurate, despite the original boulevard not being in existence for decades.
“It’s still relatively geographically accurate,” she said. “To call it the Briarwood station, I don’t think it’s a particular improvement.”
If Avella’s bill becomes law, the MTA will go through with renaming the station, according to spokeswoman Marisa Baldeo.
However, the mosaic tiling featuring the original name of the station will not change due to cost factors.
The signs bearing the station’s name on the staircase leading to the platform and the signage on the columns on the platform itself will be the ones subject to alteration.
“The request is under consideration,” Baldeo said in a statement. “Once approved and funds become available, New York City Transit will change all metal signs in the station to Briarwood.”
The opening of the subway station’s new entrance was supposed to occur in February, about one month ahead of schedule.
But the recent string of snowstorms and cold weather has delayed it until May, according to Vernon.
“Let’s hope it’s May,” she said.