July 23, 2019, Jackie Strawbridge
The MTA will install netting under elevated train tracks in four locations throughout Queens and Manhattan, including under the N/W between Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue, following several incidents of debris falling from train tracks onto roads below.
The new nets are part of a pilot program to test “whether and how the material may capture potential hazards such as loose debris while still allowing regular inspections of the structure,” the MTA said in a statement.
NYC Transit President Andy Byford announced the netting installation plans at a Long Island City town hall last month, but didn’t specify their locations at that time.
Installation at the N/W location is scheduled to begin later this summer. According to an MTA spokesperson, there is no set timeframe on how long the pilot program would last.
Falling debris from elevated subway lines has been a persistent problem throughout the past several months. In one incident that garnered lots of attention in February, a large piece of wood fell and pierced a parked car’s windshield, just missing the driver.
The new netting is designed to capture even very small items, while still transparent enough for the MTA to conduct visual inspections, the agency said. It is being tested at the N/W location in particular because of the curvature of the tracks, which makes them more vulnerable to wear-and-tear, according to the MTA.
“We are encouraged by the possible viability and off-the-shelf availability of this netting to provide peace of mind to those who traverse streets below our tracks, and will continue our rigorous inspections of these structures, which are often struck by vehicles and exposed to highly varying conditions year-round that can speed deterioration,” Byford said in a statement.
The other Queens locations that will get netting are the 61st Street-Woodside station on the 7 and the J/Z’s elevated tracks between 121st Street and 111th Street. Netting will also be installed at the 125th Street station on the 1 in Manhattan.