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Crowley, Addabbo decry deterioration under J/Z

The elevated subway tracks along Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park have been an eyesore for years, according to longtime residents and officials.

Graffiti, peeling paint and decrepit construction have not only compromised the safety of pedestrians, but also businesses that are trying to attract customers to the area, according to City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” she said at the Woodhaven Boulevard J/Z subway station Monday afternoon.

The councilwoman joined state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in calling on the New York City Transit Authority to get started on a renovation plan for the tracks before conditions get any worse. Crowley and Addabbo said the Transit Authority initially had a repainting job in the works in its five-year capital plan, but it fell through the cracks because of budgetary concerns.

The repainting job is slated to be included in the agency’s new five-year plan, scheduled to be released in the fall, according to Addabbo.

The last time the elevated tracks received a major renovation was more than 30 years ago, according to Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. and a longtime area resident.

“They’ve neglected us and put us on the back burner,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

A spokeswoman for New York City Transit said it is set to dedicate $521 million in its new five-year plan to rehabilitate several elevated tracks across the city.

“MTA and MTA NYC Transit realize the importance of regular painting of the steel elevated subway structures to protect against corrosion, extend the life of the structure and improve neighborhood aesthetics,” MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said in a statement.

Addabbo, who has lived in the area all his life, vowed he would work closely with the transit officials to make sure the renovation job on the tracks gets strong precedence in its plan for subway upgrades.

“While we’re working on the money process, we have to work on prioritizing their projects,” he said.

A new coat of paint on the tracks, which Crowley estimated would cost a couple of million dollars, would be beneficial for the busy commercial strip on Jamaica Avenue, the councilwoman said. On several areas of the track, parts of its concrete and steel structure have fallen onto the street level, causing damage to sidewalks and endangering drivers and pedestrians, according to Crowley.

“The paint protects the steel and when it’s not there, it corrodes,” she said.

In addition to the safety concerns, the leaders said the frail subway tracks detract customers from shopping at the dozens of small businesses on Jamaica Avenue. A fix could beautify the area and, in turn, bring new shoppers to the neighborhood, said Crowley.

“If you go to the other neighborhoods with elevated trains, you’ll see better businesses,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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