Jan. 26, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Enraged Woodside residents, business owners, and community leaders are demanding that the MTA stop wreaking havoc on the neighborhood—once again—as the agency snarls Roosevelt Avenue and surrounding streets with its work along the 7 line.
The MTA has been working to repair the express and local tracks at the 61st Street station since Jan. 5, but the multiple cranes clogging up traffic and sudden no-parking regulations for hours on end have put a dent on small businesses and establishments along the avenue.
“We need safe, reliable transit,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) outside Donavan’s Pub at the corner of 58th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. “But you can’t destroy a neighborhood in the process of saving a train line.”
Jimmy Jacobson, co-owner of the longstanding corner pub, said the MTA barely communicates with him and other business owners as it takes up parking spots which costs him customers.
The Donovan’s Pub co-owner said that just this week, the MTA put no-parking signs up right in front of his pub for several consecutive days, yet no work was performed near these spots. He also recalls the agency leaving equipment on nearby streets for months at a time. “We want some answers,” Jacobson said. “The MTA simply doesn’t care.”
The recent track work has also affected St. Sebastian’s Church at the corner of 58th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, as its made traffic unbearable for parishioners.
“People aren’t able to come out,” said Rev. Kevin Abels, the pastor at St. Sebastian’s. “Our senior citizens that use Access-a-Ride aren’t able to come out to the church.”
Rev. Abels also recalled a recent mass for two community members that saw several late attendees, due to the heavy traffic and decrease in parking spaces nearby.
Local leaders said the MTA has a history of “disrespecting” Woodside, pointing to roughly a decade of constant delays and service changes along the 7 line as the agency continues to install an updated signal system, which was supposed to be completed late 2017. With this track project, expected to go on until March, the trend continues.
“This inefficiency is unacceptable,” said Denise Keehan-Smith, chairperson of Community Board 2. “The MTA should be working with our local business owners with a plan that is actionable for everyone’s best interests.”
In a statement, the MTA said the current track replacement work project is critical to maintain safety and improve service on the 7 line, and that work must go on.
“We have been in constant contact with elected officials and the Community Board on this project and we look forward to continuing that engagement,” said Jon Weinstein, a spokesperson for the MTA. “This equipment is essential for critical state-of-good-repair work on the 7 line and we simply must do maintenance to ensure safe, reliable service for Queens.”