By Jonathan Sperling
The heavily trafficked Astoria Blvd. Station will close for nine months beginning on March 17 so that the MTA can install several ADA-accessible elevators and reconstruct the mezzanine.
The station, which first opened in February 1902, served more than 13,000 Astoria commuters per day in 2017 according to MTA data, but it lacks ADA accessibility. The upcoming renovations include the installation of four elevators to service the station, as well as raising the station’s mezzanine in order to better accommodate street-level truck traffic.
“We’ve been on a steady march of improvement work on the entire Astoria Line to increase reliability and improve safety and the customer experience, and this elevator project is a huge win for our customers,” said MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Raising the height of the station is also vitally important for our train service and structure as well as the vehicles that use the streets below those elevated tracks.”
District 22 Councilmember Costa Constantinides said the single-subway line neighborhood was long overdue for an ADA-accessible station, after previous Astoria subway station renovations left much to be desired. Currently, none of the neighborhood’s N/W train stations have elevators.
“As someone who catches the train at Astoria Boulevard almost daily, I can tell you this station desperately needs the pending upgrades," Constantinides told the Eagle. "I'm glad to see the MTA finally decided to give in-need Astoria riders elevator access — only after doing vanity upgrades to four other stations when we explicitly requested they become ADA-compliant. As we move forward on the discussion about municipal control of the subway system, I hope future upgrades will account for the needs of the community, so people don't have to trek several blocks just to access an elevator."
The MTA has previously completed repairs and renovations at the 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, 39th Avenue-Dutch Kills and Broadway stations. MTA crews also replaced thousands of feet of tracks and 10 switches along the line to address deterioration and reduce train noise.
Work on the Astoria Blvd. station began in September 2018, but the elevator and mezzanine work requires full closure of the station. When it reopens in late 2020, the station will have two street-to-mezzanine elevators, two mezzanine-to-platform elevators, a new station mezzanine, repaired or replaced structural columns and foundations and other improvements.
The project is especially useful to people with disabilities traveling to and from LaGuardia Airport in East Elmhurst, as the Astoria Blvd. station connects commuters the M60 Select Bus Service to the airport.