It may not last long, but western Queens politicians this week are expressing satisfaction with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
First, the agency joined with Citigroup to open a long-completed internal transfer point at the Court Square station in Long Island City on Friday. Then, the MTA decided to lease long-vacant retail space at the Jackson Heights Transit Hub at Roosevelt Avenue and 74th Street on Monday.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) had been asking the MTA to lease its vacant properties since 2009. He said it would help the community and enable the struggling agency to raise money.
“The MTA had neglected the gateway to our community for far too long,” said Dromm. “I am delighted the MTA has finally taken steps towards leasing the empty storefronts at the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue station.”
Since the station was refurbished in 2005, the agency had “inexplicably missed out on a significant source of income,” according to Dromm’s office.
A lease agreement was signed with Famiglia-DeBartolo, LLC for the operation of a 24-hour Famous Famiglia pizzeria and Italian restaurant at one of the street level spaces.
In Long Island City, passengers had been complaining that an internal transfer linking the G train at Long Island City-Court Square with with Court Square Station on the 7 line and the Court Square-23rd Street station on the E and M lines had been completed for months but wasn’t open.
In April, passenger Michael Charney contacted the Queens Chronicle to express his great concern that commuters often missed their trains after having to walk an extra foot-ball field’s worth of distance, sometimes in inclement weather.
At the time, a spokesman for the MTA said the agency was in talks with Citigroup to reach a memorandum of understanding since the transfer was built on their land.
After two articles in the Queens Chronicle, the agency opened the $47.6 million transfer on Friday to the delight of straphangers and politicians.
“This new transfer station will help commuters travel more conveniently in and out of Long Island City,” said state Sen. MikeGianaris (D- Astoria). “The public-private partnership between the MTA and Citi should serve as a model for future projects during these difficult budget times. I am thankful to everyone who played a part in making this announcement a reality.”
The transfer will serve an estimated to 20,000 customers each weekday and features two escalators, three elevators in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a transfer stairway.
The project was a mandatory requirement under the zoning code for the development of the second phase of the 15-story Citi bank office building. Construction began in 2009, according to the MTA. Citigroup footed the majority of the bill, while NYC Transit paid $13.9 million.
These two projects are not all the MTA has planned for western Queens. NYC Transit announced it will be undertaking a capital project scheduled for award later this month to make platforms on the 7 line ADA compliant.
The work will include full platform replacement, platform windscreen replacement and the installation of ADA boarding areas, tactile warning strips and signage. A spokeswoman for the MTA said she is not sure how the construction would impact commutes as the project is still in preliminary stages.