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On the right track - Feds fund 86th St. station rehab

After years of waiting, Ridgites can finally celebrate the impending renovation of the dilapidated 86th Street subway station.

On August 28, the federal government announced the release of $4.8 million in transportation funding allocated to the station renovation through the efforts of Representative Vito Fossella.

The funding was included in the 2005 Transportation Equity Act, and will be added to $2.4 million in state funding secured by State Senator Marty Golden and $5 million allocated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to rehabilitate the heavily utilized station, which is used by 9,600 commuters on a daily basis.

“We always believed this was the MTA’s responsibility,” noted Fossella during a press conference held at the station, “but we weren’t just prepared to continue to cast blame. We thought it was important to step up and do what we could.”

The “long overdue” work is anticipated to begin in April, 2009, and last two years, said Fossella, standing in front of a wall that, with its peeling paint and chipped and missing tile, was symptomatic of the problems endemic at the station.

The release of the federal funding, Fossella stressed, “Will allow the renovation of the station to begin.

“I know that easing the commute for many is essential to the Bay Ridge community,” he added.

The changes will be both aesthetic and practical. They include the replacement of the ceramic tiles on the track level walls and the painting of walls and ceilings at both track and mezzanine levels, as well as the repair of cracks in pavements and corroded steel in the station.

Also included in the project is the addition of tactile warning tiles at platform edges, and the rebuilding of platform edges; both of these changes are being made in accordance with ADA requirements.

The work will make “a lasting difference,” added John Quaglione, who attended the event on Golden’s behalf. “It will be noticeable to the people going to work and to school, and entice people to stay here and raise their families in our community.”

Over the years, the station has been a nexus of complaints, said Josephine Beckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10. “Each year,” she noted, “we heard from many, many residents frustrated at the condition of this station and other stations in the district.

“The station has always been put on the back burner by the MTA,” Beckmann added, “so we are fortunate to have had elected officials who were able to secure the funding.”

The station has long been known as “the dungeon,” remarked John Logue, the president of the 86th Street Business Improvement District. The merchants, he added, “Welcome the idea that finally money is going to be spent on the station. We are doing out part, beautifying upstairs. Now, we are hoping the MTA will do their part.”

One thing not included in the renovations is an elevator to make the station handicapped-accessible.

Unfortunately, said Fossella, despite a call for that addition by community activists, there was not enough money to add that to the project. “I’d still like to see that happen,” he acknowledged.

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