The Central Queens neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Briarwood are mostly made up of quiet, residential streets that, when you look around, can make you forget about the hustle and bustle of city life.
But that doesn’t mean news was sparse there in 2014.
The weekday commute has gotten a bit easier for Brairwood residents this week with the long-overdue opening of an entrance to the E and F subway lines on the north side of Queens Boulevard. Road construction still is taking place on and near the Van Wyck Expressway as part of the Kew Gardens Interchange highway project.
A long-awaited — and long overdue — new subway entrance to the E and F lines in Briarwood finally opened for business on Monday.
The entrance, on the north side of Queens Boulevard near the library, was first planned for fall 2012 before weather, the discovery of lead paint and other delays sometimes slowed construction to a crawl.
A multimillion-dollar city project completed ahead of schedule is as rare as a traffic-free morning on one of the many highways running through Kew Gardens.
With the opening of the new northbound Van Wyck Expressway viaduct last week, just one part of the extensive Kew Gardens Interchange project, at least one of those scenarios will come to fruition.
Briarwood Community Association President Seymour Schwartz, speaking, thanks state Sen. Tony Avella for sponsoring legislation to remove “Van Wyck Boulevard” from the name of the Briarwood E and F train subway station.
By the time the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn, the Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd. subway station may finally have a new, revamped name.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in March to shorten the name of the station to simply Briarwood passed the legislative body on June 18.
A town hall meeting organized by Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) on April 30 was aimed at giving Briarwood residents a chance to meet with elected officials and bring up issues and concerns with city departments ranging from Buildings to Sanitation to the NYPD.
But it was the ongoing construction around the Kew Gardens Interchange — and the frequently delayed effort to refurbish the northern entrance to the Briarwood-Van Wyck subway station — that had most of the more than 40 residents on edge during the meeting.
In response to BCA President Schwartz’ testimonial, “Pure Briarwood,” (Letters, March 27), I would like to point out that the sign posted states that the “mall” was sponsored by the Briarwood Community Association. This euphemistic “Queens Boulevard Promenade” runs from 84th Drive to 87th Avenue down the center of Queens Boulevard and consists of 8 park benches without backs and about 75 big concrete balls of neither practical nor aesthetic functionality. The Briarwood Mall, which is an authentic mall of 120 stores (shopping outlets, restaurants, hotel) is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, not in Briarwood, NY (a postal finance station of Jamaica).
Further, renaming the E/F subway station “Briarwood,” with deletion of Van Wyck Blvd., would serve no accurate geographic purpose for subway riders, since it would indicate no streets. An inspection of the MTA map shows that every other station along this line is either a hyphenated street/community (Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue, 63rd Drive-Rego Park, Forest Hills-71st Avenue, Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike, Jamaica-179th Street) or a street alone.
This stop is located across from Maple Grove Cemetery and is not the center of Briarwood. I propose the name be renamed Briarwood-Main Street, since this places it accurately at the intersection of Main Street and Queens Blvd., or Briarwood-Maple Grove Cemetery (the only historic site here).
But when you disembark the F train, don’t expect much “searching the promenades, seeking a clue” (Ellington/Strayhorn, Something To Live For), but the Briarwood mall of balls, paid for by city grants. Schwartz’ “vibrant ... community?” I have yet to see Duke Ellington’s jazz band on this “Promenade,” or the Atlantic City, USA Beauty Pageant contestants walking this dull strip.
With reference to your article, (“Briarwood station may be renamed,” March 20, Central Queens edition), the Briarwood Community Association fully endorses the proposed legislation offered by State Sen. Tony Avella (Senate Bill 6816) and Assemblyman David Weprin (A00789) for the full renaming of the Briarwood subway station. We strongly believe the action to be well-reasoned and in the best interests of subway riders.
Founded in 1973, the BCA has a decades-long history of serving the interests of the Briarwood community. With hundreds of families from the four corners of our community, we have, through heavily attended public meetings and heavily distributed newsletters, been able to represent and best reflect the interests of our community’s residents. Our association has made possible, among its other efforts, the Briarwood branch public library, the U.S. Post Office station, the Queens Boulevard Promenade and the partial name change to date of our local subway station, which we have advocated since 1997.
New York City Transit has long since endorsed removing the reference to the Van Wyck Boulevard. The subway station lies at the center of the east/west boundaries of our community and serves exclusively the residents of Briarwood. The new name will more appropriately identify the station’s geographic location for subway riders. Further, the proposal does not in any manner involve, nor impinge upon any other neighboring community. Van Wyck Boulevard has not existed as a street for over 60 years, having been wiped out with the construction of the Van Wyck Expressway and the Main Street extension.
The timing is most appropriate now, with the current state Department of Transportation reconstruction of the Queens Boulevard bridges, the subway passageway, elevator and the construction of two new entrances. (The Kew Gardens Interchange Project, Phase 1). The ongoing inclusion of the current names at two subway stations and separate lines is both deceptive, immaterial and a long-standing point of confusion for subway riders.
Now more than ever, with the soon-to-be new and bright station entrances, it would be most appropriate to recognize Briarwood for the vibrant, cohesive, activist and much respected community that it is, with a station name changes to simply, “Briarwood.”
Ongoing construction might not result in the only change coming to the Briarwood-Van Wyck Boulevard subway stop this year.
Legislation put forth by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last Thursday would require the MTA to remove the reference to Van Wyck Boulevard in the station’s name, instead calling it just “Briarwood.”
The entrance to the Briarwood-Van Wyck F train subway station at Queens Boulevard and Main Street, long closed for construction, may open earlier than expected.
That entrance to the station has been closed since 2010 and its reconstruction is part of the ongoing Kew Gardens Interchange Project, a $147 million improvement to area roadways.
Work is nearly halfway done on the Kew Gardens Interchange and the project may actually finish ahead of schedule.
In a presentation to the Borough Board on Monday night, Department of Transportation Director of Government Relations Charles O’Shea and construction supervisor Craig Ruyle laid out the construction plans for the coming winter months and gave an update on the project’s status.
Queens politics in 2012 brought new districts, a historic election in the 6th Congressional District and enough cloak-and-dagger intrigue to fill a Robert Ludlum novel.
But when Hurricane Sandy struck in October, killing 12 people in Queens and more than 40 in the city, devastating the Rockaways, Howard Beach, lower Manhattan and Staten Island, the people of central Queens, who were largely spared the storm’s wrath, rallied to the cause of those worst hit.
I would like to sharethe rebuttal thatThomas F. Prendergast, president of MTA New York City Transit, issued on Sept. 17 in response to my concern regarding the apparent Americans withDisabilities Act noncompliance of the ongoing construction in the vicinity of the Briarwood-Van Wyck Boulevard station on the E and F lines.
According to Mr. Prendergast, the “installation of this elevator meets ADA regulations requiring the provision of ‘equivalent facilitation’when a new stairway is built.” Since only the existingpassageway leading from the street to the mezzanine is being modified and retrofitted with ADA-compliant sloping, landings and handrails, the elevator installation with a terminus to the mezzanine level is fully compliant. Further, workers are “not replacing stairways between the mezzanine and the station platforms and this is not required to construct ADA elevators that provide access to the platforms.” The station is not eligible for ADA elevators between the mezzanine and platforms since it is not one of the 100 “key stations” in the subway system meeting MTA criteria for such an installation.
In view of alternative ADA-accessible New York City Transit stations proximal to Briarwood (and reachable via ADA-compliant MTA buses) — Jamaica Center, Sutphin Boulevard and Union-Turnpike-Kew Gardens stations — I concede that MTA New York City Transit appreciates its responsibilities to persons with disabilities. I wish to thank Mr. Prendergast for his decisive response, and I apologize to MTA New York City Transit for my misconstruction of the ADA public transit regulations as herein noted.
State DOT officials have made numerous safety upgrades since construction on the Van Wyck Expressway began disrupting Queens Boulevard in the Briarwood section. But they said area residents — here shown jaywalking against a ‘Don’t Walk’ sign last Thursday — need to exercise caution as well.
An official with the state Department of Transportation said Friday that the agency remains committed to working with Briarwood residents as long as work on the Van Wyck Expressway requires disruptions on Queens Boulevard.
The widening of the Van Wyck is the first and southernmost stage of a multiyear project to modernize the Kew Gardens Interchange, where the Van Wyck, Grand Central Parkway, Union Turnpike Queens Boulevard and Jackie Robinson Parkway all converge.
Armed with picket signs and a long list of complaints, dozens of Briarwood-area residents protested traffic and safety conditions brought about by the ongoing Kew Gardens Interchange project near the newly-opened entrance of the Briarwood-Van Wyck Expressway subway station on Saturday.
Following what it termed to be a lack of response from the state Department of Transportation, the Briarwood Action Network organized the rally in an effort to get multiple concerns addressed.
Ongoing construction on the Van Wyck Expressway has some residents of Briarwood feeling like collateral damage in the multi-year, $148 million first phase to revamp the Kew Gardens Interchange.
Dissatisfied with community meetings with state Department of Transportation representatives in the last year, residents will be taking a less traditional approach on Saturday, Aug. 25.
The recent MTA construction of an auxiliary entrance/exit at the Briarwood-Van Wyck E-F subway station with a stairway is not compliant with the maximum extent feasibility standards for accessibility for persons with disabilities in wheelchairs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Transportation Facilities apply to the construction and alterations of transportation facilities effective Nov. 29, 2006. Specifically, the standards for accessible routes (Chapter 4: 402) require “one or more of the following components: ramps
... elevators” for wheelchair accessibility. The projected construction of an elevator at this station also is noncompliant since its terminus will be the mezzanine, not the station platform. Therefore, upon final completion of this boondoggle accommodating the Van Wyck Expressway widening of the Kew Gardens Interchange Project, we shall have MTA essentially noncompliant with ADA standards effective in 2006. Wheelchair-bound persons with disabilities will be forced to dodge congested vehicular traffic along Queens Boulevard toward the Kew Gardens station, whose elevator is ADA-compliant at the station level. The present Van Wyck bridge and contiguous construction site is a nightmare of obstacles and dangerous vehicular traffic flow.
I suggest a class-action lawsuit by persons with disabilities against the MTA for permanent noncompliance in Briarwood with the federal ADA standards for public transportation facilities. A protest of a thousand wheelchair-bound subway commuters here in Briarwood with summonses and complaints heading for the Federal District Court in Brooklyn would be a welcome event for the MTA.
More than 50 Briarwood residents gathered last Thursday for a firsthand update on the ongoing reconstruction of the Kew Gardens Interchange, which handles more than 500,000 vehicles daily.
Craig Ruyle, a project design supervisor for the state Department of Transportation, delivered the update during the Briarwood Community Association meeting at Samaritan Village in Briarwood, directly overlooking the construction on Queens Boulevard and the adjacent Van Wyck Expressway.
A crosswalk on Queens Boulevard, where state Department of Transportation officials say pedestrians routinely ignore walk signs near construction work on the Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway.
Subway stations along Queens Boulevard are filled with scurrying commuters and lots of eye-rolling this week.
Subway interruptions at the E and F stations are causing chaos for commuters trying to make their way to Manhattan.
While more than a decade has passed since Police Department brass transferred mounted police officers and their horses from the stables in the 102nd Precinct to Manhattan, the precinct’s community council president has not forgotten about the cops known as Troop G.
And she wants them back.
If you thought it was difficult navigating the Kew Gardens Interchange, try designing a multi-year, multi-million dollar upgrade that will please motorists and environmentalists as well as engineers.
The interchange connects the Van Wyck Expressway, Union Turnpike and the Grand Central and Jackie Robinson parkways.
Representatives from the state Department of Transportation dropped by the meeting of the Briarwood Community Foundation last week to update more than 70 residents on the progress on the first phase of construction on the Kew Gardens Interchange.
Queens Boulevard goes through Briarwood about a mile due south of where the Van Wyck Expressway, Union Turnpike and the Jackie Robinson and Grand Central parkways converge in the tangle of bridges and ramps that make up the interchange.