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Rail-y hectic times on No. 6 line as Castle Hill, Middletown stations close for fixups

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Your commute on the No. 6 subway line is about to get rail hectic.

Major work on the east Bronx line will translate to major service disruptions for everyday straphangers at the Castle Hill Avenue and Middletown Road stations starting Oct. 5th. And two more stations will be next.

It’s all part of the MTA’s two-year, multi-million dollar facelift on four stations that’ll force riders to pack their patience, extra time and perhaps aspirin.

Work will later begin on the Buhre Avenue and Zerega avenue stations following the completion of the first two.

With subways skipping the two stations, local buses will shuttle commuters to the nearest station as crews with Yonkers Contracting Company renovate platforms, upgrade stairs and replace tilework at the elevated stations, with a May 2014 deadline.

“I give it to maybe October 2014,” said Robert Gardner, expecting to add an extra half hour to his commute. “This is terrible.”

Marcia Green, a regular rail rider, expected the transit tailspin after MTA employees handed out closure notices. “They gotta do what they have to do,” she shrugged.

Cheryl Taylor seconded that, taking the extra ten-minute walk to the Parkchester station in stride so long as the station’s fixed. “If you see the other side, the stairs are falling down.”

The Bx4 bus will be available to Castle Hill riders to travel to and from the neighboring Parkchester station. Those transferring between the Bx4 and Bx22 will have a free transfer to the No. 6 train at the Parkchester station.

At the Middletown Road station, riders could take the Bx8 or Bx24 bus to travel to and from Westchester Square-East Tremont Avenue station.

Business Derailment

Extensive work on the line has forced crews to section off parking spaces at two corners of Castle Hill Ave. and Westchester Ave. to store their heavy-duty equipment.

But they’ve now placed heavy barriers in front of a strip of stores, knocking out spaces for customers on the go.

“I wish they put it down the blcok instead of my store, but then the other guy would be affected,” said Frank Fiorentino, longtime owner of a Castle Hill Avenue deli, though he welcomed renovations. “The station’s ready to fall down.”

Blockades were orignally placed on both sides of Westchester Avenue between Glebe and Castle Hill avenues until merchants griped to Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. about a business plunge. Diaz soon pressured the city Transportation Department, demanding the agency shift the no-parking zone elsewhere.

“This is no way to help businesses,” wrote Diaz. “The damage to the local economy cannot be overlooked.”

Small business owners near the Middletown Road subway station dealt with an inconvenient business pinch as concrete barriers at the station also cut off customers from parking spots.

It was especially hard for handicapped patients visiting the dental offices of Dr. Kathleen Szanto. Some of them, relying on Access-a-Ride, were forced to be dropped off a block away since the entrance was limited.

Local Councilman Jimmy Vacca stepped in and talked the MTA and contractors into replacing the barriers to neighboring Hutchinson River Parkway East.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383
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