Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jamaica Avenue El to Get Facelift

By Eric Yun

The Jamaica Avenue elevated tracks are finally in line for repairs after years of complaints from residents. The MTA has planned a 30-month program to fix structural damage and paint a three-mile stretch from Cypress Hills to 130th Street.

The repairs will include fixing or repairing support hangars at stations, column bases, and other structural damage that is found, according to MTA NYC spokeswoman Deirdre Parker. Dirt, rust, and loose paint will be removed and painted. The contract is expected to be awarded in November.

Community leaders and elected officials have advocated for repairs on the elevated tracks for years. Store owners along Jamaica Avenue, which serves as one of the area’s main commercial strips, feel the rust-covered tracks hurt their business. Furthermore, falling debris from the tracks has become a safety hazard for citizens in the streets.

"The repainting of the J train is an important win for the communities of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven," said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village). "With a plan to complete the renovation by 2012, the MTA has made a strong commitment to the future of Jamaica Avenue. This renovation will not only serve as a vehicle for economic growth in the area but will create a safer environment for residents and shoppers."

Last August, Crowley, State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, held a press conference on Jamaica Avenue calling on the MTA to make the repairs.

"This project is long overdue and much needed,” Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. “The merchants and residents along Jamaica Avenue have been livingwith this eyesore for too many years, and this project will make one of the area's main commercial districts much more inviting to business owners and shoppers. I am happy that the MTA has made this commitment, and my office will continue to work with them to see this through to completion."

Thomson is thrilled that repairs are in line. “It’s going to be a wonderful psychological lift. It’s way overdue, and I’m extremely happy,” she said.

Thomson does have some concerns about the long term project. “It’s 30 months of construction and painting. We have to make sure it is done carefully and in a logical way so it doesn’t affect our businesses.” She is confident that careful planning between the MTA and Woodhaven businesses will allow business to operate as usual.

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