WOODSIDE, Queens— City leaders are taking the MTA to task for not doing enough in Queens to stop falling debris along the 7 train line.
Three cars have been hit already this year by wood or metal from the track.
“MTA needs to act now, immediately, before someone is hurt,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, flanked by many members who represent districts served by the 7 Train.
On Wednesday, a piece of rusted metal came crashing down onto a car near 62nd and Roosevelt.
It is the second serious case of falling debris to hit a car in the last few weeks— the third so far this year. Two weeks ago, a wood beam impaled the passenger seat of an SUV.
“The only reason people haven’t died yet is luck,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area where much of the debris has been falling. “Luck is keeping people alive, but we are not going to keep getting lucky. The next time something falls it might not crack a windshield, it might crack a head of someone walking down Roosevelt Avenue.”
City leaders want temporary scaffolding or mesh in high risk areas, but say this problem extends beyond falling objects. They said there is a widespread state of disrepair along elevated lines that threatens the entirety of Queens, with old, peeling lead paint leading a list of long-standing concerns.
Standing on the steps of city hall, the officials said what is happening in Queens is yet another example of why subways and buses should be run by city leaders not the state-run MTA. Earlier this week, Johnson proposed local control of what he would call the Big Apple Transit system.
The MTA said roughly 170 miles of elevated track was inspected after that beam impaled a passenger seat two weeks ago— and PIX 11 observed more maintenance continuing Thursday.
The MTA also said the rusted metal that fell Wednesday may have had something to do with a truck that hit a nearby beam.
Here is the MTA’s full statement:
“We have inspected the area in detail, and have determined it is safe.
“The safety of our riders, employees and neighbors is paramount, and this was an extremely serious incident that we are taking aggressive action on. We’ve launched a full scale investigation and will be inspecting the entire system, with a special focus on these types of connections, using a combination of internal resources and outside experts in order to complete it in the minimal amount of time possible. In addition, we are in the middle of a multi-million dollar painting and repair effort for the elevated 7 train line, in order to upgrade this century old structure – and we look forward to that project’s completion.
“We’ve been in close communication with elected officials whose constituents have been impacted by these events and we will work in collaboration with them on this urgent issue. We thank them for their advocacy on behalf of all our riders.”
However, council members are highly skeptical,
“I wish we had enough time to talk about generally the number of times the MTA has said things that have proven not to be true,” Johnson said.
The city may have some authority to force the MTA to put up scaffolding and mesh through FDNY and Department of Buildings inspections. Options are being evaluated.