By Jonathan Sperling
At least three Queens subway locations will have netting installed underneath their elevated platform structures, months after track debris punctured car windshields, dented roofs and nearly hit residents throughout the borough.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority will place netting beneath the 61 St-Woodside station along the No. 7 line and below the elevated structure on the N/W line between the Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue stations as part of a pilot program to test whether and how the material may capture potential hazards, such as loose debris, while allowing for regular inspections.
“We take reports of fallen debris from our elevated structures very seriously, because the condition of these structures is critical to safe train service and the safety of our neighbors,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement following the announcement.
The move comes after several cars were struck with metal and wooden debris from elevated tracks in Woodside earlier this year. Western Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents a section of Woodside, welcomed the netting, and said that its use should be “more widespread.”
“While I am glad that the MTA has finally agreed that netting is needed to protect our community from falling debris, this is just the start,” Van Bramer told the Eagle. “Following this installation, there must be a more widespread use of netting, including but not limited to the area around the 52nd St station where we’ve seen several incidents.”
“This problem is not limited to the 61st St-Woodside station and must be assessed along the entirety of the elevated 7 train,“ he added.
The 61 St-Woodside station opened in 1917 and has always been located above Roosevelt Avenue, one of the borough’s busiest thoroughfares for trucks and other large vehicles. The MTA explained that the station’s age, coupled with its exposure to year-round weather conditions, makes it particularly susceptible to deterioration that would lead to falling debris.
The netting at each section of track will be approximately 600 feet long and 50 feet wide, for a total of 30,000 square feet of coverage, according to the MTA. It is designed to capture items as small as a three-quarter inch bolt, while still allowing for regular visual inspections of the elevated tracks.
A section of elevated track along the J/Z line between the 121st Street and 111th Street stations in Richmond Hill, are also part of the pilot program. The section, along with the N/W line, were chosen to be included in the program due to the curvature of the tracks and the condition of the structures, according to the MTA.
Altogether, the netting pilot will provide approximately 120,000 square feet of coverage at the three locations, plus a section of track beneath the 125th Street No.1 station in Manhattan.