The long-awaited $24.7 million overhaul provides ADA-accessibility to the E, F, M and R trains at the fifth-busiest Queens train station, which services roughly 27,000 customers every day.
“Today’s ribbon-cutting marks our continuing commitment to make the system accessible to customers with limited mobility,” said MTA president Carmen Bianco at a grand opening ceremony outside one of the elevators. “This station was a priority for us given its high ridership and key transfer point for customers along the Queens Boulevard Line.”
“The day of the long-awaited completion of the Forest Hills-71st Avenue subway elevators has finally arrived,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz. “I welcome this day and look forward to a time when the entire subway system will be handicap accessible.”
The ribbon cutting marks the 12th station in Queens to have received the accessibility upgrades and 81st in the city's transit system.
But even before the first traces of dust were settling on the new elevators, however, one of the three broke shortly after 11 a.m. on Saturday, trapping an elderly man inside.
Stephen Melnick, treasurer of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, happened to be passing by just as the man was being helped out of the elevator by the FDNY.
“FDNY had to pry the door open,” Melnick said. “According to the bank manager [at nearby NY Community Bank ], people saw the man trying to get out. The manager hit the emergency button on the outside.”
According to an FDNY representative, calls were received at 11:20 a.m. reporting a customer stuck in the elevator, and a team provided a no-medical assist extraction of the man.
“The incident closed within 25 minutes of initial calls being received,” said the representative.
The elevator was repaired at no cost under warranty and back in service by 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
“Our maintainers arrived by 11:40 a.m. and secured the elevator,” Ortiz said. “The contractor made repairs to a roller and the top landing interlock.”
Another ADA project is currently underway at the Ozone Park-Lefferts Boulevard station on the A line, with projections for completion aiming at 2016.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky joined the ceremony last week to praise the city for keeping up with improvements to aid the elderly and disabled commuters.
“New Yorkers have always been very proud of our public transit system, and we must always be making improvements to extend access for the disabled, the elderly and parents with young children,” Stavisky said.