On Friday, NYC Transit announced that two stations, at 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue, were finally reopened after eight months of renovations, bringing N/W service back to Astoria. NYC Transit President Andy Byford said, "These stations were in desperate need of repairs to their deteriorating structures, but now they look and feel brand new, which is amazing for two above-ground structures that had been in daily continuous use for more than 100 years."
The renovations are part of the station "renewal" program announced by Governor Cuomo in 2016, which featured completely shutting down stations for major repairs for months. While this approach was meant to expedite renovations by having them last six-to-12 months (instead of trying to do the work during nights and weekends over years), neighborhoods near the stations have taken a hit. In February, Vice's John Surico wrote, "[S]ince the 30th Avenue station shut down in late October for eight months, the businesses here have gone into nothing short of cardiac arrest," and described the scene at a town hall meeting:
Nearly every business owner present said profits were down at least 50 percent or more since the shutdown, bolstered by the cold winter months. No one was notified in advance, they added, although the MTA pointed to press releases and presentations to the community board. Some said they were months behind on rent; others had laid off employees. "When I tell you this is the worst thing I've seen in all my life, being in the business for 30+ years, owning since I was a kid, this is a disaster,” said Peter Karalekas, the owner of Petey’s Burger, who added that the eatery made $16 in total cash purchases the day before. “This is a shock.”
On Friday, in addition to greeting new customers and NYC Transit employees at the station, Byford visited neighboring businesses.
Here are details about the stations' new features, from the MTA's press release:
The work at 30 Av and 36 Av included repairs to deteriorated concrete and steel structures, and rehabilitated entrances including staircases, railings and canopies; improvements and repairs to mezzanines and platforms; waterproofing; security cameras, glass barriers and railings for increased light and transparency; improved signage for easier navigation, including digital, real-time service information; and glass and wire mesh platform windscreens for added light and safety.
In the mezzanine at 30 Av, laminated glass panels in colorful abstract geometric patterns by Stephen Westfall replaced deteriorating windowless wooden wall panels, bringing color and natural light to the previously dark station waiting area. Crews also added a new staircase for exiting from the Astoria-bound platform at the 30 Av station to the street-level intersection of 30th Avenue and Newtown Avenue.
In the mezzanine at 36 Av, colorful glass windows in geometric patterns by Maureen McQuillan illuminate the station waiting area, replacing deteriorating and chipped wooden panels that previously blocked out the natural light.
Next up for Astoria subway stations: The Broadway and 39 Avenue stations will close starting July 2nd, and remain closed for up to seven months. The cost of the contract to renovate all four stations is $150 million.
The MTA also noted that the Ditmars Boulevard station is being improved while it stays open (the repairs started in April and will end in June 2019) and the Astoria Boulevard station's mezzanine will be "demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the installation of four new elevators and other accessible features." Last month, Byford unveiled his ambitious, sweeping plan, "Fast Forward," to overhaul NYC Transit, which will cost billions—but the cost of not investing in NYC's infrastructure will be even greater.