Dec. 27, 2019 By Kristen Torres
A slab of concrete fell from the 52nd Street subway station Monday and almost killed a man who was climbing the stairs to get on the platform, according to a stunned straphanger who witnessed the near-miss.
Jason Zhang, the passenger who witnessed the incident, saw a chunk of concrete fall off the wall on the stairwell at around 8 a.m. as a train had just entered the station. He said it almost hit a passenger who was heading up the stairs.
“The train was pulling in and the movement and shaking [of the platform] caused the debris to fall,” Zhang said. “It almost hit someone.”
A spokesperson for the MTA said the agency was aware of the incident. The MTA was alerted to it by an employee who noticed the shattered chunks of concrete on the stairwell.
“We take safety extremely seriously,” said Aaron Donovan, a spokesperson for the MTA. “When we learned of the issue, we quickly dispatched a team to make sure the area was safe for customer use. There’s no more loose concrete in the station.”
Donovan said MTA employees performed “sound and tap” tests to make sure there wasn’t any loose concrete on the station walls and declared it safe.
Donovan added that the station is slated for an overhaul—along with the 61st Street, 69th Street, 82nd Street, 103rd Street and 111th Street stations. The MTA is in the design phase and a contract is expected to be awarded this summer.
The 52nd Street station is arguably the worst station of the 467-station subway system.
The Citizens Budget Commission back in 2015 noted that it was the worst station in the system—with 79 percent of its structural components—defined as stairs, platform edges, ventilators and more– not in a state of good repair.
When the Sunnyside Post broke the story last month that the station was slated to be repaired along with five others, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer was particularly critical of how the MTA let the 52nd Street station fall into disrepair.
“The MTA should have overhauled that station years ago,” Van Bramer said. “The fact that we have to wait so long is a disgrace given the conditions.”
The 52nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue area has been hazardous for commuters and residents for some time.
In August, a chunk of metal fell from the elevated 7 line close to the 52nd Street station and smashed onto the pavement.
That incident followed two similar near-misses this year on Roosevelt Avenue–both in the vicinity of the 61st Street station, when debris fell from the track and struck and damaged cars below.
The incidents prompted the MTA to announce in October that it would be installing safety netting under all elevated subway tracks throughout the system.
Unfortunately we all know what it’s going to take for the MTA to take any substantive action in a timely manner: someone getting killed, and the ensuing press and lawsuit. I wish this weren’t the case, but come on, the MTA wears its (lack of) ethics on its sleeve.
After repainting the tracks they should get to work on the stations on the 7 line that are falling part. This will not be the first episode. Thankfully nobody got hurt. MTA get to work on the 7 line stations like you did on the N/W lines in Astoria. Time is ticking – do not let anyone get hurt or potentially killed.