New Yorkers are getting used to watching out for debris falling from elevated subway tracks, but here's another example of why you should always be hyperaware of your surroundings: a large section of a wall that's part of the F/G line fell to the street. And as you can see in the photos above and below, it was a substantial chunk.
Matthew Hertzberg was walking on Smith Street close to 4th Place, right between the Smith–Ninth Streets and Carroll Street subway stations, around 5 p.m. Sunday when he came upon the collapse.
"I saw something the other night that seems to have gotten swept under the rug," he told Gothamist. It was "a large block of stone from the elevated track [that] had fallen onto the sidewalk. A definite 'widow maker.' There were a couple of cops standing around the block and they taped off the sidewalk. Luckily for the MTA nobody was hurt."
You can get a better idea of where the stone was placed before in the photo below, which was taken in September 2018.
Hertzberg added that workers had been re-enforcing the wall since Monday morning.
MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek told us, "We believe water damage corroded steel clips causing material from a nearly hundred-year-old building to fall. There were no reported injuries. We secured the immediate area to ensure that it’s safe, and are conducting further inspections on locations with similar construction out of an abundance of caution."
Falling debris from elevated subway tracks has turned into an ongoing issue for the MTA, with at least 12 incidents in Queens alone in 2019. As part of the 2020-2024 $51.5 billion MTA capital plan, $325 million was allocated toward solving the problem by installing protective netting across the city’s elevated subway tracks.
Already, the MTA initially launched a $4.6 million pilot program to install protective knotless nylon netting, with openings small enough to catch debris, along four stretches of elevated track last summer. Because of the frequency of the incidents, the MTA announced in late fall that it would inspect over 325,000 baskets along 60 miles of elevated tracks, as well as speed up the installation of netting in certain areas.