The ongoing work on the A train viaduct over Liberty Avenue is annoying, some commuters and business owners nearby say, but it’s needed.
“The train was falling apart,” said commuter Brian Gordon, who rides the A from 88th Street-Boyd Avenue to his job in Brooklyn. “They needed to fix it. It’s annoying that it’s taking this long, but what can you do? It needed to be done.”
Like hundreds of other commuters who use the station daily, Gordon catches the A train to Brooklyn at 88th Street in the morning and in the afternoon has had to take the train to Rockaway Boulevard — the next stop on the line — and either walk back to his car at 88th Street or take a Manhattan-bound train one stop.
“I just park halfway between Rockaway and 88th Street,” he said. “This way it’s an even walk. Or sometimes I’ll just go to Rockaway in the morning.”
Since May 12 and continuing until at least mid-August, 88th Street and 104th Street-Oxford Avenue are closed to southbound train traffic, forcing commuters to walk from the next station or backtrack as work is done on the platforms at the stations, which will turn 100 years old next year.
The construction was expected. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had warned the line would be worked on for several years. The project includes new lighting, platforms, safety features and upgraded communications at the stations. A new elevator will also be installed at the terminus at Lefferts Boulevard.
But as work continues, construction equipment has been placed along the northbound side of Liberty Avenue, blocking off parking spots underneath the stations from 86th to 88th as well as 102nd and 104th streets.
Karyn Petersen, district manager of Community Board 10, said she has not received any complaints from business owners or residents about the lack of side street parking.
Indeed, several business owners along Liberty Avenue said the construction equipment blocking parking spots did not have much of an effect on their businesses, though they all said it didn’t help.
“Most of my business is foot traffic in the morning, so parking isn’t too much of a problem,” said one store owner who did not want to be identified. “I’m worried about what is going to happen when the Manhattan-bound side closes.”
He added that the closing of the Manhattan-bound side would have been better in the summer, when his business loses some of the commuter traffic due to schools being off and vacations.
“In the summer, I make it up with kids coming in to get sodas and lunch, that kind of thing,” the owner explained.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said the work on the Manhattan-bound sides of 88th and 104th streets is to begin in September and last through December.
Another issue that has come up during the project is noise. Several residents living near the 104th Street station said banging noises from the work on the weekends have been an issue.
“It’s loud, and I’m surprised they’re doing it on the weekend,” one resident said on Facebook, later acknowledging that the work needed to be done. “I just hope they finish it soon.”
During the last weekend in June, 103rd Street was closed to traffic between Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue as construction crews positioned a crane in the street to work on the station platform.
Traffic problems are also an issue. Though the 106th Precinct has not seen any accidents along Liberty Avenue where the work is being done, the large orange barriers and construction equipment obstruct the view of traffic for cars crossing the thoroughfare on 103rd and 87th streets where there are no traffic lights.
The work is due to be completed by Aug. 18, but Petersen said the MTA had warned her it might go a few weeks longer.
“I guess once they got in there, they realized the problem was bigger than they expected,” she said last month.
An MTA spokeswoman said contractors discovered additional work had to be done on steel girders after the concrete was dug up on the platforms, which may delay the completion until about Labor Day. Work on the Manhattan-bound platforms is still slated to begin in September.