Oct. 18, 2019 By Christian Murray
The MTA is removing the overhead tiles along a one mile stretch of the 7 line viaduct in response to the decorative strips falling off.
The agency began removing the tiles from 32nd Place to 48th Street last Saturday and is expected to complete the job by the end of the month. The work comes after at least two incidents this year where the tiles have fallen and struck cars below.
The MTA says that the work is being done as a preventive measure.
“We began removing the tiles on Saturday, Oct. 12. There is no public risk to safety but out of an abundance of caution, we are removing the tiles, which is expected to take two weeks,” the MTA said in a statement.
The Sunnyside Post reported in January of an incident when the decorative terra cotta tiles came crashing down.
Vitali Ogorodnikov, a resident, snapped pictures of his car at the time that had been parked underneath the train at 45th Street and had been damaged by falling tiles.
“It’s terra cotta turning into deadly projectiles,” Ogorodnikov told the Sunnyside Post at the time, noting that a 4-by-8-inch tile, still intact and upright, had sliced through the windshield “like knife through butter.”
The work to remove the tiles is taking place about two weeks after the MTA announced that it is spending $325 million to install netting under all elevated subway tracks to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists traveling below.
There have been numerous incidents of debris falling from the elevated tracks this year, including several incidents in Woodside, and cars have been impaled or damaged as a result.
The MTA notified Assembly Member Catherine Nolan earlier this month that it planned to remove the tiles.
Nolan said that it was good that the MTA is looking to make the public safe but wanted the decorative titles to be preserved. She is asking the MTA to save the “historic” tiles, while ensuring safety at the same time.
Nolan penned a letter to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye
“I share your concern but due to the historic nature of these decorative tiles, I would hope that they could eventually be restored rather than taken all down,” Nolan wrote. “Of course safety is paramount but I believe the MTA can work to keep the historic structure restored.”
Nolan asked the agency to took into a solution as soon as possible.
However, the MTA has no intention of preserving the decorative tiles arguing that they are of no historic value.
“These tiles do not have historic value and are purely decorative,” an MTA spokesperson said.