The station will be closed from March to December during the nine-month project. The N and W trains will bypass the stop during construction.
At the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA) meeting last Wednesday, Vikas Wagh, the Astoria Boulevard project manager for the MTA, explained that project will replace a total of eight stairs at the station.
The MTA will also install four new elevators, two from the street to the mezzanine and two from the mezzanine to the platform level. The elevators can be accessed at Columbus Triangle and Hoyt Playground, which are at opposite ends of the station.
“With that, the station will be ADA compliant,” Wagh said.
The entire mezzanine will also be demolished and rebuilt to be more modern and shallower. The MTA will also lower the street under the station by a few inches, giving cars and trucks a higher vertical clearance.
Construction crews plan to reinforce the street columns supporting the station. Other work include replacing the platform roof and canopies, raising the platform planks, installing new platform edges and redoing the walkways.
Similar to the work done at the other N/W stations, the stair enclosures will be replaced with glass. There will also be new artwork at the station.
According to Wagh, the first phase of the project, which is meant to prep for the station closure, is already underway. Two bus shelters have been relocated, and the stairs where elevators are to be installed have already been removed.
The MTA will complete foundation work in the next month.
When the closure begins in March, the construction will also impact vehicular traffic as well. Traffic agents will be placed at Hoyt Avenue North and South, 31st Street and Astoria Boulevard.
There will be one travel lane in each direction on 31st Street during work hours. During non-work hours, there will be two travel lanes in each direction.
Work hours from Monday to Friday are from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends.
Wagh warned that there will be 20 weekends during the project when the entire intersection will be closed and traffic detours will be set up.
“We have to tear down the entire mezzanine, you cannot do that by partially closing certain things,” he said. “You have to close the entire intersection.”
As for train service, the MTA said for 13 weekends, the N/W lines won’t run north of Queensboro Plaza. During those weekends, riders can take shuttle buses.
OANA President Richard Khuzami said while the closures will hurt, the elevators will be a remedy for accessibility issues at the station.
“There will be a lot of inconvenience, but our thoughts are that in the long run, it’s going to be worth it,” he said.
Astoria resident Marsha Henry said she’s nervous about the station shutting down. She typically takes the N or W trains into Manhattan to drop her kids off at school in the morning.
While Henry has an alternative with the M60 bus at Astoria Boulevard, which goes up to Harlem and connects with several train lines, she said the bus is already overcrowded right now.
“You can literally find 50 to 70 people standing at 7 a.m. waiting for the next bus,” she said. “It doesn’t come for 10 minutes. When that bus comes, it’s already packed.”
When Henry suggested additional M60 service, MTA officials responded that they will take the recommendation back to supervisors. They also said they will monitor the crowds on the bus.
If the overcrowded bus problem continues, Henry said she may have to get out of the door with her young kids at 6:15 a.m., which will be a “huge undertaking” for her family.
However, the 11-year Astoria resident said she’s happy that the station will finally have elevators. Though her children are older now, she recalled how much trouble she had getting the stroller up two flights of stairs many years ago.
“I don’t have little ones anymore, but I definitely see the value of having them at that station,” Henry said.