Beneath the elevated J train, Jamaica Avenue is a bustling expanse of markets and shops punctuated with pedestrians.
But, with its peeling paint, corroded steel and trickling creosote ooze — a possibly carcinogenic substance derived from coal tar — the J-train overpass is no cooling canopy.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), along with state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Maria Thomson of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and state Assembly candidate Mike Miller, called on the state Legislature Monday to approve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget to repaint and rehabilitate the dilapidated J train line — an infrastructure that she called an “accident waiting to happen” because of its peeling paint, cracks and structural damage on its stairways.
“Jamaica Avenue is lined with businesses and we believe it is on the cusp of turning into a thriving economic engine for the borough of Queens,” Crowley said. “Unfortunately, the most prominent feature on Jamaica Avenue is the rusty and deteriorating overhead J-line subway.”
J-train repairs were supposed to be included in the MTA’s five-year capital plan, which just ended. Funding dried up before the authority could move forward, and elected officials and community leaders are pressing lawmakers to make the proposed 2010-14 capital plan a priority when they return to Albany on Sept. 9.
Addabbo, who was raised in the community, said the area has been problematic since he was a child.
“Whenever we ask the MTA to fix something, it’s a piece of it — patchwork — and they do it,” he said. “But this is a major project.”
Thomson said the GWDC has been persuing repairs and painting of the J-line, which the MTA confirmed hasn’t been done in 25 years, but the agency keeps putting it on the backburner.
“It’s falling apart. Pieces are falling off and falling onto the sidewalk,” she said. “All you have to do is look up and you can see for yourself the problems we have.”
Since the rehabilitation project hasn’t been put out to bid yet, it’s uncertain how much money will be needed for the facelift. Crowley said she estimates it will cost “millions and millions of dollars,” but stressed it would be very little compared to the billions being spent to construct the new Second Avenue subway.
“The repainting and rehabilitation of the J-train overpass should take priority over new MTA projects,” Crowley said. “Why is the MTA embarking on new capital projects when their existing structures are deteriorating?”
Miller said he would promote the J-train project if elected to the Assembly in September.
“I’ve lived here for over 40 years,” he said. “I call on the MTA and state Senate to restore the structure to the glory it was.”