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Many Residents Near 'Crumbling' M Train Will Leave Voluntarily, MTA Says

By Gwynne Hogan | November 1, 2016 11:31am
 The Bushwick Cut that connects the M line to the J and Z trains needs to be repaired, according to the MTA.
The Bushwick Cut that connects the M line to the J and Z trains needs to be repaired, according to the MTA.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

BUSHWICK — Many residents and three business owners have agreed to leave their premises for months while the MTA carries out repairs on an above-ground section of the M train tracks in Bushwick.

The three businesses and around 60 neighbors will be out for between three and 10 months, officials say. More people are expected to agree to leave.

"We anticipate very close to 100 percent voluntary agreements with residences and the businesses," said Jeffrey Rosen, the MTA's Director of Real Estate, at a board meeting last week.

He was discussing the replacement of the "Bushwick Cut" — the curved section of the M train line that juts off from the J and Z train tracks at Broadway up onto Myrtle Avenue.

While the MTA has not dismissed forced takeovers of the properties through eminent domain proceedings as a backup plan, the agency has convinced residents along parts of Ditmars Street and Myrtle Avenue and three businesses including Little MO, Harvest Cyclery and Little Skips Outpost to leave.

In April, when residents first got wind that the MTA needed them to leave in order to tear down and rebuild the M train viaduct, many had vowed to fight and said they wouldn't vacate the homes.

But as the MTA provided more details about the relocation, many softened their stance

Certain residents of Ditmars Street must be out of their homes for 10 months beginning on June 1 of next year, according to the MTA. 

Displaced residents in the Myrtle Avenue apartments and the three businesses will only be out for three months, also starting next June, the officials said.

"It was a lot more nerve racking when we just started to hear about it," said Jarad Needham, one of the core employees at Harvest Cyclery, a bicycle shop that relocated to 1158 Myrtle Ave. about a year ago.

"[Now] reality kind of set in. It is what it is.

"I'm not worried. It's better than the train falling on the roof."

The MTA has promised to pay property owners for their lost renters' income, while tenants and homeowners will have their lodging paid for elsewhere as well as a stipend for food. The three businesses will also be paid for the time they have to close.

The MTA still hasn't released details about how much the whole relocation process will cost the agency. At Wednesday's board meeting, when MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast was pressed for details about the cost of the project, he said he'd give a summary later.

"Cost is not the determining factor. We just have to do the replacement," he said. 

"I think we’re doing it cost effectively," Rosen added.

Fellow MTA board member Andrew Albert spoke about the importance of repairs at the viaduct, especially in the build up to the L train shut down that will sever service between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 18 months starting in 2019.

"If you want the M, the J and the Z train to be there for when the L train is out we must do this vital work," Albert said.

"It is really crumbling. A visual inspection was quite an eye opener."

While Rosen touted the agency's "excellent rapport with the affected residents," Abby Campbell, 25, called the experience "a nightmare" and had already moved out of her apartment on her own dime.

"They wouldn't work with us on what we needed," she said.

Campbell said that her roommate was going to be out of town for several months next summer, they couldn't move out exactly when the MTA offered to foot the bill.

She and her roommate have since moved to an apartment near the Bushwick Avenue - Aberdeen L train stop.

"Fortunately, we had enough money saved to make it happen, but it drained our savings," she said.