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Falling Debris Signals End for Signal Station

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If you are traveling underneath the 6 IRT train, along Westchester Avenue, you may want to be cautious.

Large pieces of an out-of-use signal station above Westchester and Wilkinson avenues have been falling off. Although crews from the Metropolitan Transit Authority recently boarded up the windows and doors, many residents feel that the structure is still unsafe for passing traffic and pedestrians.

“I don’t think that the windows were the main problem. The main problem is that roof, which comes apart little by little, and the wood planks around the house,” said Louis Curcio, a Hobart Avenue resident. “Pieces of the metal roof have been dangling and when the wind starts blowing some pieces have been falling into the street. Whenever there’s a storm, it takes a toll on the house.”

Curcio said he had been picking up a pizza with his nephew on Mother’s Day when he saw a roughly 4-foot long piece of metal fall from the roof of the signal house, which stands more than 30 feet above the ground.

He said that he and his nephew called around to local public officials, fire and police departments to see what could be done about the deteriorating structure.

“It was a pretty dangerous situation,” said Pat Vaccariello, who lives on Wilkinson Avenue. “When we had those wind storms there were chunks of it flapping in the breeze and all I could think of was some chunk coming down and hitting some poor S.O.B.”

Although the falling debris didn’t cause any injuries or traffic accidents, in June, Vaccariiello, Curcio, Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association president Ed Romeo and Senator Jeff Klein toured the area.

Klein wrote a letter to MTA chairman Jay Walder about the dangerous situation, and received a response stating that plans were underway to tear down the station in the future.

“After pieces of the old signal station fell in May, my office immediately contacted the MTA to determine how the station could be secured to protect residents,” Klein said. “I am committed to ensuring the personal safety and security of all the residents of the district and therefore I am please that the MTA made plans to remove what is left of the old signal station in order to prevent possible injury or harm.”

MTA officials did not comment about securing or tearing down the station, but only said that the authority had received complaints.

Although the MTA agreed to remove the station, which is estimated at between 70 and 80 years old and has been out of service for about 30 years, no date has been set for the project.

With constant problems popping up in city and state budgets, Westchester Avenue residents are worried that the wind may start taking off more pieces before the project works its way through the city’s red tape.

“It’s good they did something, but who know when getting it removed will be done,” Vaccariello said.

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