Dec. 15, 2021 By Christian Murray
The MTA will be constructing elevators at the Steinway Street M/R subway station—although it will be several years before they are completed.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for elevators at the station for years, made the announcement Tuesday and said that the MTA has finally provided a timeline as to when it anticipates their completion.
According to the MTA, the contract for new elevators will be awarded next summer, and construction is scheduled to take 36 months after the contract is awarded.
“After years of pushing for accessibility improvements, the MTA listened to western Queens residents, activists and elected leaders advocating for better subway access. These improvements will go a long way to making our subway available for all,” Gianaris said.
“While there is still a long way to go in making the entire subway system 100 percent accessible, these elevators represent a step forward.”
Steinway Street will not be the first elevators installed in Astoria after pressure from Gianaris and other Queens officials. The MTA constructed elevators at the Astoria Blvd station that were completed in July 2020.
The MTA has also made provision in its next capital plan to construct elevators at the 33rd Street-Rawson Avenue and 46th Street stations on the 7-line, in addition to Court Square/23rd Street on the E/M-lines.
Gianaris has been a longtime advocate for transit accessibility, pressing the MTA to install elevators throughout the entire subway system. He has been very critical of the agency in recent years– particularly when it spent $150 million to overhaul four stations along the N /W line in Astoria and didn’t include elevators.
The agency revamped the 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, 39 Avenue-Dutch Kills and Broadway stations over the past 3 years. Gianaris and transit advocates argued that the MTA focused too heavily on aesthetics by not building elevators at the stations.
Here are two ways to obtain financial support to pay for accelerating the number of subway stations to reach compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). . The MTA receives $1.5 billion in annual assistance from various Federal Transit Administration formula funding grant programs. The MTA $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan has programmed significant funding to dramatically increase the number of additional subway stations reaching full ADA compliance Why not ask any major business, developer, college or hospital who benefit from subway stations adjacent to their facility to sponsor installation of elevator(s). Let them split the cost 50% with the MTA NYC Transit in exchange for naming rights to the elevator(s).
(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit along with 30 other NY & NJ transit agencies).