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MTA to Carry Out ‘Blitz Inspection’ of Elevated Subway Tracks, Following More Falling Debris

Elevated tracks in Ozone Park (Google Maps)

Oct. 30, 2019. By Shane O’Brien 

The MTA will carry out a “blitz inspection” of the elevated subway tracks after yet another piece of debris fell from the tracks in Queens and smashed through the window of a car parked below.

The most recent incident of falling subway debris occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 29 under the elevated ‘A’ tracks at 100th Street and Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

Livery cab driver Anna Lombard had parked her car beneath the elevated structure as she waited on a customer when a chunk of metal smashed through her rear window, according to WABC 7. Neither Lombard nor her customer were hurt as a result of the incident.

The MTA inspected the track and said that a 15-pound metal D wedge came loose and fell into a containment basket beneath the track. The basket, however, was not properly secured, which caused the debris to fall to the street.

The baskets are supposed to stop loose parts from falling on to the street and to secure track ties.

There are over 325,000 protective baskets along 60 miles of elevated subway tracks and this is the second incident in less than a week where they have failed to catch falling debris in Queens.

Last week, a bolt came loose at the N/W Queensboro Plaza station in Long Island City and smashed through the sunroof of a car passing below since the basket designed to catch it was not aligned properly, the MTA conceded.

The incidents have prompted MTA President Andy Byford to order a systemwide “inspection blitz” of the containment baskets over the next seven days.

Byford said that falling debris was a cause for concern and that the MTA would be taking aggressive steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“I take such incidents extremely seriously and have directed my team on an ongoing basis to take all necessary actions and expend all resources to prevent debris from falling from elevated structures,” Byford said.

The MTA announced at the beginning of the month that it would be installing protective netting under the entire elevated subway system as part of its $51.5 billion Capital Plan for 2020-2024 in response to earlier incidents of falling debris. The nets are estimated to cost around $325 million.

In February and March, there were two incidents near the 61st Street-Woodside ‘7’ station where falling debris struck and damaged cars below.

In August, a chunk of metal fell from the elevated 7 line close to the 52nd Street – Lincoln Avenue station and smashed onto the pavement.

The MTA has installed pilot netting programs underneath elevated tracks in three Queens locations; underneath the 61st Street-Woodside station on the 7 line; near the 39th Avenue station on the N/W Astoria line; and between 121st Street and 111th Street underneath the J/Z line in Jamaica.

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Sunnyside resident

Has it occurred to the MTA that maybe someone or some people are behind recent rash of falling debris events? I’ve been in Queens for 16 years, and it wasn’t until about a year ago I ever heard of anything falling onto cars bellow, and now it’s becoming a weekly event….something doesn’t add up.

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