MTA Construction Hobbles Businesses and Residents

Bringing necessary ADA compliance to Lorimer Station is a long debilitating process

More than half of Lorimer Street north of Metropolitan has been fenced off since January 2022 to allow for heavy construction equipment to do work in getting the Metropolitan Avenue/Lorimer Street Station up to ADA’s accessibility standards. Photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

It’s safe to say that everyone wants our subway stations to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), but no one wants our neighborhoods neglected in the process.

In late January of 2022 construction began on Metropolitan Avenue/Lorimer Street Station as announced by a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) press release published on January 23, 2022.  The plans to increase subway station accessibility should be a win all around. Unfortunately, construction at the Metropolitan Ave./Lorimer St. station has caused all kinds of chaos and distress for the surrounding community.

At best, ear-splitting noise and vibrating buildings have made living and dining-in unbearable. At worst: financial blows and layoffs for businesses, serious property damage, unsanitary flooding, and dirt floating through the air.

The narrow path of sidewalk that remains on Metropolitan Avenue just east of Lorimer Street can hardly fit two-way pedestrian traffic and hides businesses from public view. Photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

Crest Hardware (558 Metropolitan Avenue) is one of many businesses in the area that has reaped the consequences of this poorly managed project.

“Our experience has been a frustrating nightmare from the jump,” said owner of Crest Hardware, Joseph Franquinha. “Businesses are losing needed foot traffic from walk-ins and regulars alike. Structural damage has been caused to a few. The sanitary issues are excessive.”

One of the worst “sanitary offenses” Franquinha faced was when filthy water that had been sitting in two gigantic dumpsters for months was emptied. It mixed with sewage and ended up leaking into the basement of a building he owns down the block of Crest Hardware.

“I had to wade through over two feet of waste water to start tackling the issue. I eventually had to call a professional remediation company and my plumber. This type of work costs tens of thousands of dollars to fix.”

Mexican restaurant Zona Rosa (571 Lorimer Street) has suffered a loss of 60% of their business as 6/7th of the restaurant is fenced off from access.  One has to travel around the construction then turn around and backtrack to access the entrance. Photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

Mexican restaurant Zona Rosa (571 Lorimer Street) suffered in the midst of construction too, seeing business plunge 60 percent since the project began. They have also experienced broken windows, cracked flooring, and possible damage to the foundation of their building.

People who live near the site have horror stories of their own. One resident, Lisa Summa, described the vibrations created by the construction as “earthquake-like” and said the volume has made it feel like construction is happening in her living room.

“Your home is not your home,” she said to the Daily News. Summa also mentioned that she does not open her windows due to dust and other particles that she could potentially breathe in.

The MTA assures, though, that air quality monitoring has been conducted throughout the construction process and that vibration monitoring was installed in potentially affected buildings “where feasible.”

Lisa Graziano, manager of local bar The Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Avenue), said the issue has affected the roads as well. “It’s disruptive for people who drive into the neighborhood to support the businesses. It’s extremely congested during the day. The construction takes up an entire lane’s width on three of the four streets at the intersection.”

However, like many business owners affected, she understands that the construction must be done for the community. “The new subway and features are for the greater good. We get that, and patiently wait.”

“Accountability and responsibility are paramount to success. But before accountability comes better preparation and communication to all parties involved,” said Joseph Franquinha. “We understand the importance and value in the ADA accessibility projects happening across the city, but there are right and wrong ways of going about it. This is certainly the wrong way.”

New York City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez and New York State Assembly Member Emily Gallagher wrote a letter in response to the havoc where they called upon the MTA to take action.

In a statement to Greenline, MTA Spokesperson Michael Cortez said: “We have ensured a safe worksite to address any potential quality of life concerns at [the Metropolitan Ave//Lorimer St.] location, and will continue to do so as work is completed to make the Lorimer Station fully accessible.”

Construction at the Metropolitan/Lorimer station is planned to end later in 2023, but the MTA has a long way to go. Only 25% of subway stations were ADA accessible as of June 2022, and a settlement agreement requires 95% of inaccessible stations to be updated by 2055.

Author: Kassondra Gonzalez

Communications Associate and Contributor of the Greenline.

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