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Local News November 2, 2012  RSS feed

STATION RENEWALS ON M LINE STARTED

CB 5 Committees Learn More On Project
by Robert Pozarycki

Crews have begun making improvements at one of three subway stops on the M line in Ridgewood scheduled to be renovated under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) station renewal program, Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees learned at their meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the board’s Glendale office.

Joseph Raskin of the MTA informed members of the panel that workers recently started on repairs to the platform and mezzanine areas at the Seneca Avenue station. Since August, the authority has been working on the Knickerbocker Avenue station in Bushwick, which remains closed until early next year.

At Seneca Avenue, Raskin ex- plained, the canopy of the elevated structure is being fixed and new edges have been installed on the platform.

“By the time it’s done, [the station] will look a lot better,” he said, adding that the work at the station could be wrapped up in April.

Renovations at the Fresh Pond Road station are slated to begin in November and will continue for about a year, Raskin noted. Crews will also start improvements at the Forest Avenue station around March; construction at that stop should be complete within six months, he added.

Neither of the three Ridgewood stations will be closed completely while the renovations are underway, but Raskin explained that weekend service on the M line will be disrupted when necessary.

“Even though it’s not a long-term project, it will have a major impact on this line,” he added, pointing out that once completed, all of the M train stations in Ridgewood will have been given makeovers in the last decade.

Panel members asked Raskin to provide updated plans for the renovation of the Fresh Pond Road station as well as answers to previously raised concerns and questions. As reported, committee members had reservations of the planned demolition of the entrance ramp leading to the station from Fresh Pond Road, replacing it with a sidewalk.

During a previous meeting on the renovation plan, the members indicated that a fence or a barrier was needed along the new sidewalk in order to prevent pedestrians from crossing into the entrance of the adjacent Fresh Pond Bus Depot.

Raskin told the committees that he would work to secure updated plans for the project.

On another transit topic, John Maier, co-chair of the Public Transit Committee, asked if the MTA had any plans to install elevators at the DeKalb Avenue station on the L line, which is adjacent to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. While no such plans are in place, Raskin explained that the logistics of the station and the surrounding area may make it impossible for elevators to be constructed at the site.

Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri also apprised Raskin of a petition submitted to the board by residents living near the Fresh Pond Depot who claim that MTA workers have been taking up parking spaces on side streets.

He noted that the MTA previously arranged to provide spaces under the elevated M line but that many depot employees have opted not to use them.

Raskin said he would forward the community’s concerns to the depot.

More commuters through Qns.?

Metro-North and New Jersey Transit trains may extend service into the Bronx and Connecticut, and such expansion would affect how trains operate at the Sunnyside Yard in Queens, according to Maier.

He told the committees of information he learned at a transit conference recently attended that both the MTA and New Jersey Transit are considering running trains eastward out of Penn Station and along the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The Metro-North plan would result in the construction of four new stations in eastern Bronx. Additionally, N.J. Transit may extend service as far north as Stamford, Conn.

These plans, if approved by both authorities, would only take effect upon completion of the East Side Access, in which Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains would be diverted from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal. While these ideas would expand commuter capacity, Maier noted, it would “interfere” with future plans of adding freight rail service at the Sunnyside Yards and away from the Fresh Pond Railyard in Glendale.

“It looks like there’s a big push for passenger service on all the lines,” Arcuri observed. Meanwhile, he noted, the Fresh Pond Railyard appears to be busier than ever, with freight trains moving in and out of the location at all hours of the day, seven days a week.

Other news

Committee members also agreed to review and, if necessary, alter the guidelines for approving street renaming requests. The suggestion was raised by Manny Caruana in the wake of Board 5’s September meeting, during which family and friends of the late George Gibbons made a surprise, public appeal for the renaming of a Maspeth street in his memory.

Gibbons, a local bar owner, died in a crash allegedly caused by a hitand run driver on the Long Island Expressway service road in Maspeth in October 2011. The board voted at the September 2012 meeting to recommend the renaming request even though the Transportation and Public Transit committees previously took no action on it.

“How could we say no?” Caruana said of the September meeting. The end result, he charged, was that the board asked the city to rename a street for someone for “being a nice guy.”

The committees are forming a Bike Lane Subcommittee to work with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and gather input from the community about adding local roadways to the city’s bike map.

Maier stated that DOT officials recently responded to suggestions submitted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA), of which he is a member, regarding potential locations for bike lanes in that neighborhood. He noted that the DOT is planning to make the rounds at community boards across the city to help expand the city’s network of bike lanes.

Following a brief hiatus, work has resumed at the Cooper Avenue underpass, according to Fern Weinreich of the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC). She informed the board that workers have begun removing deteriorated layers of concrete from the northern retaining wall. The project is still on track to be completed next spring.

Board 5 also received preliminary design plans for the reconstruction of the full length of Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper avenues, Arcuri announced. The board has a 30-day period by the DDC on which to comment on the proposal. After reviewing the documents personally, the chairperson stated that the plans did not include construction on portions of Palmetto Street, Schaefer Street and Irving Avenue, as previously requested by the board.

Though the reconstruction of streets in southern Middle Village was pushed back to 2020 at the earliest, the Department of Transportation (DOT) repaved 73rd Place and 67th Drive, according to District Manager Gary Giordano.

At the request of local residents, the committees agreed to ask the DOT to consider installing a “yield to pedestrian” sign at the southeast corner of Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Drive in Glendale and an all-way stop sign at the corner of Gates Avenue and 60th Place in Ridgewood.

The next meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, Nov. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at Board 5’s Glendale office, located at 61-23 Myrtle Ave. For more information or to file a traffic safety request, call 1-718-366-1834.