The Astoria Boulevard station closed this past Sunday for the remainder of 2019 as the MTA undertakes a major renovation that will bring elevators and a new mezzanine to the 102-year-old transit hub.
According to the transit authority, Astoria Boulevard's "dire need [for] critical repairs" necessitates that the N/W station be closed through December. Additionally, all N/W service north of Queensboro Plaza will be shuttered for 13 weekends, including this coming weekend, in order to expedite the work.
During the nine-month closure, an estimated 13,000 daily Astoria commuters will be diverted to nearby stations, including Ditmars Boulevard and 30th Avenue. Shuttle buses will be available during the weekend work, and the station will continue to offer the M60 bus to LaGuardia.
The project involves completely rebuilding the station's mezzanine and walkways, with the goal of accommodating trucks coming off the Grand Central Parkway that frequently crash into the station's structure. The overhaul will also add four new ADA-compliant elevators, as part of the MTA's effort to build an additional 50 accessible stations over the next five years.
For Astoria commuters, the long-term closure of a critical subway stop is nothing new. Since Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out his since-abandoned Enhanced Station Initiative three years ago, five subway stops in the area have been targeted for renovations, with Astoria Boulevard the only one to receive new elevators. When the 39th Avenue station reopened after a seven-month closure earlier this year, accessibility advocates fumed that the extensive closure had failed to bring the station into ADA compliance.
“Any time the MTA is spending time and money on renovations, they need to make it accessible for everybody,” Colin Wright, a senior advocacy associate at Transit Center, told Gothamist at the time. "Astoria is a particularly sore spot."