The MTA is planning to begin a 14-month, extensive reconstruction of the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard subway station this April that the authority says is needed to rehabilitate what it considers a dilapidating, century-year-old station. There are rusted-out holes in beams and the wooden staircases between the platform and mezzanine buckle under steps from commuters. The station will remain open during the repairs.
But elected officials slammed the agency for poor public outreach — local politicians were notified Monday; not including the addition of elevators in its repairs; and for tacking on the construction while the 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations remain closed as part of a separate, controversial renovation program. Since those two projects began this fall as part of what’s known as the Enhanced Station Initiative, it’s apparent that any good will between the agency and the community has been lost.
Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the MTA, said that only one staircase in the Ditmars Avenue station will be closed at a time as crews work to fix crumbling staircases, concrete slabs and support structures. New lighting will be added. The leaky, wooden roof will also be replaced with a new steel structure and new outdoor windscreens will be added. The agency will also renovate and balance platforms to fix gaps between trains and the platforms and make small changes that will improve access.
Staging for the project will require the complete curb space under the Hell Gate Bridge overpass, but it will not block businesses nearby, Tarek said. The project will cost the MTA $22 million, the elected officials said.