KEW GARDENS – The Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike subway station is now accessible to handicapped riders thanks to three new elevators unveiled recently.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included MTA Executive Director Eliot Sander, MTA NYC Transit President Howard Roberts, Jr., Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, the agency announced that 67 stations are now handicapped accessible – two years ahead of the 2010 goal.
“We are proud to be two years ahead of the schedule that we had set in 1994 to create 67 stations that are accessible to everybody,” said Sander. “This is the third ribbon-cutting ceremony that we have held in the last month. It is a pleasure to be able to complete so many important projects thanks to the strong support of elected officials throughout the region.”
The street elevator headhouse is located on the southeast corner of Union Turnpike and Kew Gardens Road, just south of Queen Boulevard. Customers with disabilities can now take advantage of the new elevators, which includes one providing access between the street and mezzanine level and two connecting the mezzanine and platforms.
The station is the fifth busiest in Queens, with an average weekday ridership of 27,658. It originally opened in December 1936 and serves as a major transfer point to busy lines providing access to destinations such as JFK Airport, St. John’s University, North Shore/Long Island Jewish Hospital Medical Center and numerous local parks.
The $13.9 million station renovation project, began two years ago, included other improvements such as: accessible station booth windows, handrails, public telephones, platform warning strips and reduction of the platform edge gaps.
This year, 11 ADA elevators have been opened in six subway stations, and three more elevators are expected to be completed at another station later this year. The improvements are funded through the MTA capital plan.
"We want to operate a first-class subway system for everyone and each station that we are able to bring into compliance with the ADA brings us closer to that goal,” said Roberts, Jr. “From my initial days as president of NYC Transit, it has been one of my goals to make substantial improvements in system accessibility.”
The new elevators have been equipped with closed-circuit televisions and talkback intercom systems that allow users to communication directly with the station agent’s booth and station command in case of an emergency. The elevators also include a monitoring system that alerts technicians immediately if the elevator breaks down.