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Queens Chronicle

Liberty Avenue ‘el’ project starts soon

Plan includes overhaul of stations, new elevator at Lefferts Boulevard

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:42 am, Thu May 16, 2013.

The plans to restore the elevated subway line above Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, and install an elevator at the Lefferts Boulevard station, are moving forward after a delay.

Community Board 10 received an update on the project from Vinod Patel, the job’s design manager, who said the project is in the final stages of development and pre-planning and will go out to bid this year.

“We are moving forward with the Liberty Avenue project,” Patel told CB 10 on Thursday.

The work on the stations, which opened in 1915, will go to bid on June 30, while the elevator project at Lefferts Boulevard is scheduled to go to bid on September 30.

The project was first announced at CB 10 in March 2012. The plans include renovations at all six elevated stations along the line between Lefferts Boulevard and the Brooklyn border, including major overhauls of the 80th, 88th, 104th and 111th streets stops. Some work will also be done at Rockaway Boulevard and Lefferts Boulevard — the line’s terminus — where the new elevator will be built.

Station work will include reconstruction of the platforms and windscreens and new stairs. The tracks were overhauled in 1999 and the trestle was painted in the mid-2000s.

The Lefferts elevator will be located on the north side of Liberty Avenue, where the sidewalk is wide. It will stop at the street, the mezzanine and the platform levels.

A new third staircase will also be built at Lefferts Boulevard that will allow commuters direct access between the platform and Liberty Avenue, bypassing the mezzanine level. The station will also get a new roof.

“People get backed up trying to get to the stairways,” said Joe Raskin, the MTA’s assistant director of government and community relations.

The work was originally scheduled to go to bid in December and the delay concerned some in the community.

“MTA representatives had announced that six subway stations in the Richmond Hill and Ozone Park area will get renovations thatwere expected to startsince December last year,” said Al Baldeo, a Democratic district leader and attorney from Richmond Hill. “They made that commitment at several public meetings with community boards, community leaders and others, but the project has not yet begun.”

An MTA spokesman last week said the design process on both projects took longer than expected.

But the delay was not discussed at CB 10; rather some were concerned about the possibility of criminal activity in the elevator.

“We have a problem at night around there where people hang out. They urinate,” said Margaret Finnerty, president of the Richmond Hill South Civic Association. “How are you going to control that?”

“If there is a situation like that that develops,” Raskin responded, “it’s going to be a matter for the Transportation Bureau of the NYPD to have people there as a proactive thing.”

He noted that similar problems are not very common in other elevators — though one in Woodside broke down due to urine damage — and the elevator shaft will be made entirely of glass to allow daylight in so people inside can be seen.

As of press time, the MTA was not able to provide a cost on the project.

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