watch out

Nets Set for Plunge-Prone Elevated No. 7 Train Tracks

The underside of the 7 train’s elevated tracks near the 61st Street station, where debris has fallen to the street, June 4, 2019.
The underside of the 7 train’s elevated tracks near the 61st Street station, where debris has fallen to the street, June 4, 2019. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

It’s a net gain for an elevated stretch of a subway line that’s locked in a losing battle with gravity.

The MTA said Tuesday it will install protective netting beneath “limited” sections of elevated train tracks throughout the city — including along the No. 7 line, where debris has repeatedly plunged onto Queens’ Roosevelt Avenue.

The agency’s move follows the latest  spills — both near the 52nd Street stop in Woodside on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s otherworldly that we have so many people in Woodside, Queens, when they walk along Roosevelt Avenue are looking up and saying, ‘Am I next? Is something going to happen to me here?’” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “They’ve got to fix this.”

Van Bramer has been pressing the MTA to install netting beneath the 7 tracks in the wake of several heavy items plummeting from the elevated structures.

The problems underneath the line started in February, when a piece of wood spiked the windshield of a passing for-hire vehicle. That scare prompted the MTA to pledge an inspection of “every inch of elevated tracks in the city.”

But until this week, the MTA had been noncommittal about installing netting.

THE CITY last month reported that New York City Transit President Andy Byford objected to  Van Bramer’s proposal, warning in a letter to the Council member that netting would “impede access, close-up inspection and assessment of corrosion or defects on the structure and cause extensive street-level traffic disruption to install and secure.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Byford said the No. 7’s elevated structure “has the attention of the highest levels of MTA leadership,” and that the authority is taking the netting on a test run.

“We are working to quickly put into place an initial deployment of netting to understand if it can be used to contain debris while also still providing enough visibility and access to perform regular inspections,” said the spokesperson, Shams Tarek.

He added that the 7 line has undergone “multiple inspections” in recent months — and that there were “no signs of slow deterioration or stress that would have been visible” on the piece that fell Monday.

Keeping on Track

Van Bramer said the MTA did a quick about-face because the agency “had no other choice.”

“If you have come to the conclusion that you actually cannot guarantee that wooden beams or chunks of metal are not going to come flying off those tracks, then you had better damn do something,” he said.

Peter Ferguson, 45, who works at a grocery beneath the elevated 7 train tracks near the 61st Street station said he has seen pieces of paint and metal fall onto Roosevelt Avenue, June 4, 2019.
Peter Ferguson, 45, who works at a grocery beneath the elevated 7 train tracks near the 61st Street station said he has seen pieces of paint and metal fall onto Roosevelt Avenue, June 4, 2019. Photo: Jose Martinez /THE CITY

Those who live and work near the elevated structure in Queens said they welcomed the netting — even if they don’t yet know exactly where it will be installed or when.

“It will feel safer, because right now, you don’t know when something is going to fall,” said Peter Ferguson, 45, who works at a grocery beneath the 7’s tracks in Woodside.

“Netting is a good idea,” said Sylvia Griffiths, 61, who was walking Tuesday beneath the 61st Street-Woodside station. “But it has to be netting in a very big way, not just in a small section.”

Van Bramer said he will press Byford and other MTA officials for more information about the netting at a town hall meeting Monday at LaGuardia Community College.

“How soon will the netting be installed and where exactly? And how limited?” he said. “We just don’t know the details and we need to know the details.”

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