Stand clear of the chipping paint.
In an effort to raise awareness of her district’s dire transportation needs, Senator Alessandra Biaggi gave Senator Tim Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. a first-hand look at the decrepit condition of the Westchester Square IRT #6 station on Thursday, April 4.
The elevated station was as usual, bustling during evening rush hour as commuters passed narrowly by walls with dripping rust stains, others that are missing chunks of plaster, and what seemed to be more paint coming off the ceilings and trestles rather than what was staying on.
Westchester Square station is one of the most run down Metropolitan Transportation Authority properties in the 34th Senate District according to Biaggi.
As a matter of fact, the MTA provided her a price point of ‘hundreds of millions’ for the station’s necessary rehabilitation, she said.
That’s just the first car of an entire train of transit issues that Biaggi’s east Bronx district is currently facing, though.
Out of 45 train stations in the 34th SD, only five currently meet the handicap accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Train stations in her district are also located in the west Bronx, serving Riverdale and Kingsbridge, as well as Woodlawn and Pelham Parkway.
“That means there’s a literal limit of where residents with disabilities can travel to,” Biaggi said prior to the tour, specially mentioning subway stations like Middletown Road that aren’t yet ADA-accessible and how Pelham Bay station’s handicap accessibilities are constantly out of order.
Biaggi also met with community stakeholders from across the Bronx portion of her district in her office prior to the walkthrough of Westchester Square station, hearing what improvements Bronxites wanted as far as transportation goes.
Kennedy was planning to sit in on the earlier meeting as well; but ironically, he was delayed by terrible traffic conditions on his journey from Brooklyn to Biaggi’s Waters Place office.
Similar to the traffic jam the Buffalo senator encountered, some residents griped about the lack of adequte bussing across the Bronx and the lengthy waits that permeate the system.
Community Board 10 district manager Matt Cruz detailed the misery of waiting an hour and a half for the Bx5 bus at Bay Plaza.
Representing Hunts Point, CB 2 district manager Ralph Acevedo, also called on more extensive bussing for his waterfront community.
Other transit issues effecting Hunts Point, he enummerated, were trucks and tractor-trailers parking illegally for long periods of time as well as the many 18-wheelers that get stuck beneath the Amtrak-owned trestle that Metro North will soon be using for its upcoming east Bronx expansion.
Bronx director of City Planning Carol Samol also spoke about the Metro North rail expansion not only to Hunts Point, but also Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City.
She discussed the possible approaches to developing parking opportunities around the soon-to-be transit hubs, but warned the Metro North stations project would not have the funding to develop parking garages, so parking around the stations will likely be limited.
Other concerns from Bronxites addressed pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Kevin Daloia, who heads the Bronx branch of Transportation Alternatives discussed a safe streets initiative that would make sharing roadways more feasible.
Smaller quality of life issues such as graffiti and cleanliness at transportation hubs were mentioned by CB 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke.
While Biaggi and the rest of the New York Senate jump on these issues, improved transit across the Bronx is something we can all get on board with.