Those needing to ride an elevator into the subway instead of taking the stairs at the 71st Avenue station in Forest Hills will have to wait a little while longer.
The nearly two-year long elevator installation project has officially surpassed the original expected completion date with months more of work to be done. Instead of October 2013, the $24.7 million project is now scheduled to be finished in January 2014.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in an email that “issues with utility relocation” are to blame for the three-month delay, but that the project is nearly finished.
“[It is] about 75 percent complete,” Ortiz said. “Most of the work now is on the street level involving manholes, sidewalk work and the installation of the elevator.”
Once completed, there will be one elevator to shuttle people between the street and the mezzanine level and two more elevators below to transport them between the mezzanine level and the Manhattan and Jamaica-bound platforms.
The 71st Avenue station serves the E, F, M and R trains and is the fifth-busiest in Queens, according to the MTA, with an average of 27,000 riders passing through its turnstiles on any given weekday. The elevators will help those with physical limitations, mothers with strollers and people with heavy baggage get between levels of the station without having to trek up or down the stairs.
Joel, a Forest Hills resident who takes the subway to and from the station every day, states that the project taking longer than anticipated is no surprise to him.
“It’s New York, man. Everything takes forever here,” Joel said. “The construction has been like this for as long as I can remember. If it is just four months overdue, I would be thoroughly impressed.”
The “area closed” signs cordoning off the future site of an elevator aren’t just another manifestation of a lengthy public works project to some people. For one local business, the above-ground construction of the street level’s elevator has had a minor impact on sales as well.
Because pedestrian traffic in front of the Fay Da Bakery at 107-50 Queens Blvd. has been interrupted by the work on the street-level elevator, a longtime employee who wished not to be named believes that sales have suffered since the project began.
“A little bit, yeah. For about a year or so,” she said when asked if the bakery’s sales have been impacted. “Not too much, but somewhat.”