Tag Archives: Queens Midtown Tunnel

MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers save residents from LIC blaze


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez


Two MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers were injured after helping rescue more than a dozen people from an early morning fire at a Long Island City apartment building.

Sgts. Kris Owens and Paul Leggio were preparing for a security checkpoint at the Queens Midtown Tunnel administration building Wednesday when they saw flames and smoke at the rear of an apartment building  just two doors away, the transit agency said.

A two-alarm fire had broken out just after 6:30 a.m. in a four-story dwelling at 10-39 51st Ave.

Owens and Leggio, together with Sgt. Jacinth Thomas and Officers Joseph Vasquez, Ronald Linck, Steven Wall, Dave Rivera and James McGuigan, sprung into action and decided to check to see if anyone was trapped in the blaze.

“We saw heavy flames and smoke as we approached, and we started knocking on doors and kicking doors to get the people out,” Owens said. “Everybody seemed to be sleeping and disoriented, and some people came out in their nightclothes.”

After safely removing more than a dozen people from the building, the officers also evacuated residents from the apartment buildings on both sides of the fire, according to the MTA.

“Within a few minutes we had the building cleared. We got everybody out safely. I’m glad we were there,” Owens said.

Vasquez and Linck were injured while evacuating residents and were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of cuts, bruises and smoke inhalation, the MTA said. Five firefighters were also hurt in the blaze, according to the FDNY, but no civilian injuries were reported.

“Our Bridge and Tunnel Officers work around the clock to protect our customers from hazards of vehicular traffic, but when they saw lives at risk off our property, these brave officers did not hesitate to plunge into danger to save them,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. “I’m proud of their selfless actions to protect the public.”

 

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MTA to continue 7 train suspensions despite LIC’s pleas


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

After listening to numerous complaints recent No. 7 train suspensions have caused, the MTA told Long Island City – we’re sorry but the work must go on.

The western Queens community came together during a town hall meeting with MTA officials on Thursday to discuss the line’s suspensions, which are expected to continue for 13 more weekends throughout the year.

Officials from the agency explained the purpose behind the suspensions and listened to feedback from residents, elected officials and business owners.

MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco expressed his apologies for the inconveniences but told those present that the disruptions will continue as planned.

“This is not something that is unique to just our 7 line riders, because of the nature of our system we have to do this all over the city,” Bianco said. “Let me apologize to you with the inconvenience we’re causing because I know it’s there and I do apologize. We’ve looked hard for alternate ways to do this and I think we found the best solution.”

One of the ongoing projects that are causing the No. 7 line to shut down on weekends is the implementation of a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), which by 2017 is expected to provide real-time arrival information at stations and “improve system safety, reliability, capacity and flexibility,” according to the agency’s presentation.

The other two projects include Steinway Tube reconstruction and rehabilitation, and track panel replacement.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 2 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

One of the biggest topics brought up by residents and business owners during the night was the installment of a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.

Even though the entire room agreed it would be the best alternative during the suspensions, Bianco said that according to data from the MTA, a shuttle bus would only benefit a limited amount of people and would not save much travel time.

However, elected officials said they have yet to see any data regarding the shuttle service.

“We asked for it a while ago and I haven’t seen it,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “We’re still waiting for it. We keep hearing about it.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer agreed on the need to see the data as he asked the audience whether they believed the shuttle would work best for them.

“If the New York City transit believes that that plan is a bad plan for all of you, despite the fact that all of you think it’s a very good plan, then we need to see why this is being done the way it is being done,” Van Bramer said.

Although the work is expected to continue until 2017, this year is expected to be the worst and after mid-2015 the majority of the work disruptions will shift east from Long Island City, MTA officials said.

 

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MTA town hall to address 7 train shutdowns


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Long Island City community plans to express its rage at the MTA for the lack of local subway service.

A town hall meeting for locals to decry the last three weekends of No. 7 train suspensions is scheduled for Thursday to go over the details of the service disruption, expected to last for 19 more weekends.

Local elected officials, who asked the MTA to set the meeting up, and MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco are expected to hear feedback from community members.

“I really thought the community should have the same access and same right to get the briefing and be able to ask their own questions,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “I want the folks to be able to share with the MTA how they feel about this and why it is so harmful to their business and everyday lives.”

Senator Michael Gianaris said the MTA does not realize Long Island City has become a destination. The community has attempted to be more reasonable with the agency, but without success.

“It’s nice to have a dialogue, but a dialogue without action is not that helpful,” Gianaris said. “I hope this time is different. We’re going to keep their feet to the fire.”

Through July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the MTA said, but there are also nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

Ideas for transportation alternatives during the weekend disruptions, such as the shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city, will also be brought up.

Sheila Lewandowski, Long Island City resident and owner of The Chocolate Factory Theater, believes such a meeting should be done before the disruptions began. However, she hopes the MTA will take what is said at the meeting and put it to good use.

“I think it’s important that the MTA remembers that it’s a public service and that they need to hear from their customers. I don’t feel like we get much opportunities for that to happen,” Lewandowski said. “What I want is for them to be more accessible to the very people that use the system because I feel like that’s what’s going to drive better service and change.”

The town hall meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 78 at 46-08 Fifth St.

 

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Pols, leaders meet with MTA to begin dialogue on No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After local elected officials and community leaders met with the MTA Thursday, the agency plans on making no changes to the No. 7 train suspension, but is looking to reach out to the community.

State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer were among those who spoke with MTA officials during the closed preliminary meeting to discuss the upcoming shutdowns to the subway line. 

Between Feb. 28 and July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized but the agency also plans on holding nine tentative weekend shutdowns for August through November.

Thursday’s meeting was not opened to the public but some members of the Long Island City community stood outdoors in order to show their concerns.

The MTA offered to continue the conversation with the community by coming out and holding a meeting to explain the details for the suspensions, according to Gianaris. The date of that meeting is yet to be determined.

“It’s better that they are listening to our input. But it’s only valuable if it leads to change,” Gianaris said. “We hope that the MTA will not just listen to our concern but actually do something about it. Today was the beginning of a process to test if they’re willing to do that.”

Although the MTA expressed the willingness to reach out to the community, the senator said the agency did not agree on bigger issues such as those related to improving the service or providing more substitutes.

For example, one substitute that was shot down by the agency was Gianaris’ suggestion to offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.  

“The limited good news is that they are engaging in a dialogue with the community on what is needed,” Gianaris said. “The not-so-great news is when we expressed what the community needs, we didn’t get that far. But the dialogue will continue.”

The MTA previously said the latest round of work is expected to modernize, improve and fortify the Flushing No. 7 line. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

 

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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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One tube of Queens-Midtown Tunnel closed this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez

The Queens -bound tube of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will be closed to traffic from 2 a.m. Saturday, July 27 until 5 a.m. Monday, July 29 for construction work, according to the MTA.

The remaining tube will be open to two-way traffic and can be used by cars and New York City buses, but commercial traffic will need to find an alternate route.

From Manhattan, vehicles can enter the tunnel at 34th Street between Second and Third avenues, and from Queens can use the regular 37th Street exit for uptown traffic and take the Marginal tunnel exit to 38th Street, then to Second Avenue to go downtown. The 34th Street and Second Avenue ramps will be closed to traffic exiting in Manhattan.

Drivers should expect delays during the closure and are advised to find alternate routes.

 

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One tube of Queens-Midtown, Hugh L. Carey tunnels closed this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of MTA's Flickr

One tube at both the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Hugh L. Carey Tunnel will be closed this weekend for Sandy repairs and other work, according to the MTA.

The Queens Midtown Tunnel will be closed from 2 a.m. Saturday, April 20 through 5 a.m. Monday, April 22.

The Hugh L. Carey (formerly known as the Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, April 19 through Monday, April 22.

Both tunnels will have one lane operating in either direction. Trucks are not permitted at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel during the two-way operation, but are allowed at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

Drivers should expect delays during the closure and are advised to find alternate routes.

 

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One tube of Queens-Midtown Tunnel closed this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez
The Queens bound tube of the Queens Midtown Tunnel will be closed to traffic from 2 a.m. Saturday, April 13 until 5 a.m. Monday, April 15 for Sandy-related repairs, according to the MTA.

The remaining tube will be open to two-way traffic and can be used by cars and New York City buses, but commercial traffic will need to find an alternate route.

From Manhattan, vehicles can enter the tunnel at 34th Street between Second and Third avenues, and from Queens can use the regular 37th Street exit for uptown traffic and take the Marginal tunnel exit to 38th Street, then to Second Avenue to go downtown. The 34th Street and Second Avenue ramps will be closed to traffic exiting in Manhattan.

Drivers should expect delays during the closure and are advised to find alternate routes.

One tube of Queens-Midtown Tunnel closed this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez

Starting at 2 a.m. Saturday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday the Queens-bound tube of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will be closed to traffic to repair damage from Sandy.

The remaining tube will be open to two-way traffic and can be used by cars and New York City buses, but commercial traffic will need to find an alternate route.

From Manhattan, vehicles can enter the tunnel at 34th Street between Second and Third avenues, and from Queens can use the regular 37th Street exit for uptown traffic and take the Marginal tunnel exit to 38th Street, then to Second Avenue to go downtown. The 34th Street and Second Avenue ramps will be closed to traffic exiting in Manhattan.

Drivers should expect delays during the closure and are advised to find alternate routes.

 

 

One tube of Queens-Midtown Tunnel to close this weekend


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez.

Starting at 2 a.m. Saturday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday, the Queens-bound tube of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will be closed to traffic to repair damage from Sandy.

The remaining tube will be open to two-way traffic and can be used by cars and New York City buses, but commercial traffic will need to find an alternate route.

From Manhattan, vehicles can enter the tunnel at 34th Street between Second and Third avenues, and from Queens can use the regular 37th Street exit for uptown traffic and take the Marginal tunnel exit to 38th Street, then to Second Avenue to go downtown. The 34th Street and Second Avenue ramps will be closed to traffic exiting in Manhattan.

Drivers should expect delays during the closure and can use either the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge or the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel as an alternate route.

 

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WATCH: Queens-Midtown Tunnel floods during Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr/MTA

It took over a week for the Queens-Midtown tunnel to open to traffic after it flooded during Sandy.

On Tuesday, the MTA released a video from October 31 showing how much water flowed into it because of the superstorm. The transit agency also released photos of the flooding.

It was the first time the tunnel, which carries an average of 78,000 vehicles daily, flooded since it opened in 1940.

After dewatering its 1.6 mile tubes and making electrical repairs, it opened to bus traffic on November 6, cars on November 9 and trucks last Friday.

Queens-Midtown Tunnel opens to bus traffic


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

After Sandy left the Queens-Midtown Tunnel flooded with almost 30 million gallons of water a week ago, it has finally reopened to traffic, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday.

For now, only buses are allowed through it during the morning and evening rush hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. going into Manhattan and  3 to 7 p.m. going out of it.

On average, 78,000 vehicles go through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel each weekday, according to the MTA.

 

MTA announces fare and toll hike proposals


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Today the Metropolitan Transit Authority officially announced its proposals for the fare and toll hikes that are planned for March.

The agency said that the increases will bring in “vitally needed revenue to support the New York region’s transportation system.”

The MTA is considering four options that would increase bus and subway rides.

On October 10, the New York Daily News published those options ahead of time. Though the MTA would not confirm whether those were its actual proposals, the ones it revealed today did reflect the ones the paper released.

Two options keep the base fare at $2.25; the other two raise it to $2.50.

If the base fare stays the same, the cost of a weekly unlimited MetroCard would go up from $29 to $34 and the monthly from $104 to $125. The seven percent discount for every $10 put on a MetroCard would be lowered to five percent.

The second option would raise unlimited rides to $32 and $119, but eliminate the discount.

If the MTA raises the base fare to $2.50, then straphangers would keep the seven percent discount, but pay more for an unlimited MetroCard ($30 and $112).

The final option would keep weekly unlimited MetroCards at $29, and only increase the monthly by $5, but the base fare would be $2.50, and there would be no discounts.

There are also four proposals for express buses. Again, two would keep the base fare, which is currently $5.50, and the two others would raise it 50 cents. The options would also have similar trade-offs for MetroCard discounts and unlimited rides.

Most of Long Island Railroad and Metro-North tickets would go up by 8.19 to 9.31 percent, said the MTA.

These hikes would be the fourth increase in five years for subway, bus and commuter rail fares and that is one too many said public transportation advocacy group, the Straphangers Campaign, following the MTA’s fare proposals announcement.

“Blocking or reducing the fare increase is possible, if we get more help from Albany,” said Straphangers spokesperson Gene Russianoff. “One promising plan is to generate new revenue by both raising and lowering tolls on city bridges and tunnels in line with where there is the most and least congestion.”

The proposals that the MTA announced Monday would raise the tolls for many area bridges and tunnels. Though E-ZPass customers would still pay less than other drivers, everyone will be paying more.

Those increases include raising the tolls for the Queens Midtown Tunnel, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel from $4.80 to $5.30 for E-ZPass holders and from $6.50 to $7.50 for other drivers.

Tolls for the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge would go up between 12 and 33 cents, depending on whether the driver has an EZ-Pass or is a Rockaway resident.

In November, a month before the MTA votes on how it’s going to raise tolls and fares, the agency is letting the public weigh in on the options in a series of public and video forums. It is also accepting public statements via email and regular mail.

“The public will have significant input into our decision-making process. In the spirit of transparency, the public will assist in shaping our fare policy,” said MTA chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “These proposals have been designed to balance our need for revenue with public involvement. We need to hear from the public. Feedback evaluating the specific alternatives we’ve put forward is particularly useful, but we value all our customers’ input, and we’ll consider changes to our proposals based on what we hear and read.”

MTA customers still satisfied, says annual survey


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The results of the MTA 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey are in, and riders remain pleased with all New York City transit options.

Surveying 18,000 people, the agency found that the biggest jump in satisfaction was with the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and Metro-North.

The increase comes after last year’s drop that was likely due to “winter storms and service disruptions from Amtrak repairs/derailment,” said the MTA.

In 2010 the LIRR had an overall satisfaction rate of 89 percent, but was 78 percent in 2011. This year it went back up to 86 percent.

Among the individual lines, Port Washington, Port Jefferson and Port Washington tied for first with a 90 percent rating. The worst line, Oyster Bay, still rated high at 79 percent.

Overall, riders were just as happy with the subways and buses as much as they were last year.

As in the past two years, only about 45 percent of straphangers were satisfied with how well the MTA kept subway trains from getting too crowded during rush hours. It was the only category in the 2012 survey that received a rating below 67 percent.

Bus riders were least happy with how long they had to wait for a bus to arrive and frequency of service. They were most satisfied with convenience of bus routes.

Satisfaction with tunnels and bridges was up from both 2011 and 2010, at 85 percent, and drivers were most pleased with the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

See more results from the MTA 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey.