New Elevator Offers Easier TransportationNew Elevator Offers Easier Transportation

A new elevator is in the planning stage for Queens' subway station at 71st Street and Continental Avenue. The exact start and proposed ending dates are not yet determined but, having the preliminary design is the biggest step forward so far. This is exciting news for residents and commuters, because requests for an elevator have been voiced for many, many years.

Queens is the biggest, fastest growing of all the boroughs in New York City. Queens is separated from Manhattan by the East River, and is home to two airports: JFK International and La Guardia Airport. Queens also boasts to be the home of Mets baseball stadium Citi Field, Chinatown, the US Open Tennis Center as well as unique museums, incredible eateries and terrific shopping. Queens is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the United States where over 140 languages can be heard. All these amenities call to US tourists and visitors from around the world, as well as draw in locals for the thousands of available jobs.

So, understandably, one of the most hectic subway hubs in New York can be found at 71st and Continental. This stop accommodates four different train routes and has connections to three bus lines in the middle of Forest Hills shopping and business area. Stations to be improved are chosen by statistical usage, although this station has yet to upgrade in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new elevator, expected to be finished in November 2013, will finally bring this station into compliance.

In addition, the elevator will make access easier and quicker for the disabled and elderly, as well as mothers with baby strollers, shoppers with packages, and tourists with luggage, not to mention hard working pedestrians who just cannot climb the steps after a long day. The elevator's function will also seek to ease congestion by greatly improving the flow of individuals who would otherwise cause traffic on the stairs. During construction of the elevator, the mezzanine and platform area will be expanded by removing the air shaft walls and the two existing staircases. After construction has finished, current stairway congestion will soon move more quickly and easily because of the elevator. In addition to the elevator, the renovation plan includes relocating the turnstiles and ticketing to the entrance of the station, leading to a much more ergonomic flow of passengers. This one seemingly minor improvement will create a vastly better subway experience for all riders by easing overcrowding and frustration caused by human delays. Most of the reconstruction will occur in the west wall area and is not expected to cause too many delays during that time.

The elevator proposal was presented to the city council by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The contract is expected to be in place by March, 2011. The construction plans will not disrupt subway services to the best of their ability. The remodel should take only about two years. Presently, the planned first stage cost is listed at about $7.5 million. The five phase project should total around $483.7 million. Funding will be sourced from federal, state and local money.
by Wilson Castrillon
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Wilson Castrillon has been in the elevator industry for over 25 years. In the 1990s he received his NYC Department of Buildings inspector's license and his QEI Certification. In 1999 he started his own elevator consulting business providing design, engineering, and more.
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