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Queens pol proposes protective netting below elevated subways to catch falling debris

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A City Council member has called on the MTA to install netting across the entire elevated portion of the N and W lines

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Back in July, following reports of falling debris, the MTA announced that it would install protective netting in four sections of the subway beneath elevated structures as part of a pilot program to prevent loose debris falling. But this week, a City Council member called for netting to be installed throughout the entire elevated stretch of N and W lines in Queens.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides, who represents the area, says that two miles of track up to the end of the N and W lines at Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard are still exposed. Those stations were used by 52,000 commuters each weekday on average in 2018, with ongoing track and station repairs.

“Our lives should not be put in danger by falling debris or train equipment whenever we cross 31st Street,” Constantinides said in a statement. “Given the aging infrastructure of this line and the years of work still ahead to fix it, this is a no-brainer.”

He cited the case of an Astoria resident who last week was nearly struck by a metal flashlight while she was crossing the area near 23rd Street. Other residents of the area have reported cases of falling debris from track maintenance or construction falling to 31st Street.

There have been multiple cases of falling debris cases across the boroughs. Back in February, a wooden beam fell from the elevated 7 line and crashed into a car on Roosevelt Avenue, near the 61st Street-Woodside station, almost hitting the driver. Non-elevated stations have also experienced their share of falling debris: Last year, part of the ceiling collapsed at the Brooklyn Borough Hall station, and in September, debris fell onto the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center stop.

The locations selected by the MTA as part of the initial pilot are 61st Street-Woodside on the 7, the 125th Street station on the 1, the J and Z lines in Jamaica between 121st and 111th streets, and the N and W lines in Astoria between Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue. Some of those structures are more than a century old, and NYCT engineers chose those four locations because they “endure higher levels of stress and wear-and-tear from trains,” an MTA statement reads.

“We are encouraged by the possible viability and off-the-shelf availability of this netting to provide peace of mind to those who traverse streets below our tracks, and will continue our rigorous inspections of these structures, which are often struck by vehicles and exposed to highly varying conditions year-round that can speed deterioration,” NYCT president Andy Byford said in a July statement.