QUEENS — A new entrance to the Briarwood-Van Wyck F train station finally opened Monday morning, more than a year after it was initially scheduled to be completed — but access was still limited because of ongoing construction.
Local residents, who for the past four years had to use another entrance across the Van Wyck Expressway, welcomed the long overdue completion of the project.
“This is so exciting, we are so happy,” said Ann Casimiro, 48, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years. “My husband even called me this morning to tell me that it’s open. We were hoping they were going to open it before the snow comes.”
“It’s been so frustrating,” said another resident, John Bauble. “We have to celebrate now.”
The new entrance, next to the Briarwood branch of the Queens Library and near Archbishop Molloy High School, was built by the state Department of Transportation as part of the $265 million Kew Gardens Interchange project, which started in 2010, and aims to widen the Van Wyck Expressway.
The DOT said that the reopening of the Briarwood subway entrance, on the corner of Main Street and Queens Boulevard, was delayed because workers came across a number of unexpected obstacles. Last year, they found lead paint in the existing tunnel and had to remove it. The cold winter last year also delayed getting materials and construction equipment.
Currently, residents can access the new entrance from Main Street only and the entrance is still surrounded by a construction area.
Access to the entrance from Queens Boulevard should be available next fall after an overpass is reconstructed.
"There is still landscaping that needs to be done, but we wanted to open the entrance as soon as it was safe to do so," Diane Park, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said Monday morning.
Aida Vernon, the president of the Briarwood Action Network, a local civic association, called the reopening “a nice gift to the community during the holiday season.”
“After four long years, the community is very happy that the main entrance to our subway station is finally open," she said. "And it comes at the best time, as we are experiencing very cold unpleasant weather.”