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Briarwood Subway Entrance Nearing Completion After Year-Long Delay

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 20, 2014 2:47pm
 The main entrance was initially scheduled to open last fall.
Briarwood Subway Station
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QUEENS — Construction work on the new main entrance to the Briarwood-Van Wyck F train station, which was initially scheduled to be completed last fall, is almost finished, the state Department of Transportation said.

Diane Park, a spokeswoman for the state DOT, would not, however, say when the entrance will reopen, leaving skeptical residents to wonder whether crews will meet the projected deadline after a delay of more than a year.

Park said that the project requires the cooperation of various state and local agencies, as well as Con Edison, and has to be approved by the MTA. But she noted that “things are progressing" and “we are in the inspection phase."

Photos provided by the state DOT show a complete entrance, but Park said the entryway is in the middle of "an active construction zone." The reopening, she said, will require installation of lighting, building a concrete walkway and other landscaping improvements, she said.

The new entrance is being built by the state DOT as part of the $265 million Kew Gardens Interchange project, which started in 2010 and seeks to widen the Van Wyck Expressway. It will also rebuild its bridges and ramps.

The subway entrance, located on Queens Boulevard, next to the Briarwood branch of the Queens Public Library, was initially scheduled to open last fall. The date was later pushed back to summer 2014.

The DOT said that workers struggled with a number of unexpected obstacles, including finding lead paint in the existing tunnel that had to be removed and coping with brutally cold winter last year, which delayed getting materials and construction equipment.

Meanwhile, Briarwood residents have had to use the entrance located near Maple Grove Cemetery, across the Van Wyck Expressway, which is a long walk from the residential part of the neighborhood.

“The [main] entrance was closed four years ago this December and the community has suffered through four years of inconvenience,” said Aida Vernon, the president of Briarwood Action Network, a local civic association.

“At this point, the actual reopening is a constantly moving target."

The delays left her wondering if the opening was going to come before the heart of the winter.

"It's going to be a hardship if it doesn't open up soon because we already have bad weather,” Vernon said.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in an email that he "can confirm that inspections are ongoing" but noted that he could not "provide an opening date until those inspections are complete."