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7 Train Line Sheds Lead Paint as MTA 'Deliberately' Lets it Crumble: Suit

By Katie Honan | May 22, 2017 2:54pm
 7 train at Main Street in Queens, photographed in 2008.
7 train at Main Street in Queens, photographed in 2008.
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Flickr/Doug Letterman

JACKSON HEIGHTS — The MTA has knowingly allowed dangerous lead paint chips to fall off of the decrepit 7 train stations, creating a "severe health emergency" along much of the line in Queens, according to a class action lawsuit filed Monday.

The plaintiffs, made up of Jackson Heights residents and business owners, allege that the agency "has wrongfully, knowingly, deliberately, intentionally and as a matter of policy" allowed for the lead-based paint to fall from the elevated train due to lack of maintenance. 

A recent analysis of the falling paint chips found they were nearly 50 times the allowable level of lead — which prompted action from residents after years of complaining, they said.

They hope the suit will force the MTA to repaint the elevated structure between 103rd Street and 52nd Street, which is in the worst shape, lawyers said.

Councilman Danny Dromm said he's asked the MTA for repairs and new paint — to replace both the old lead as well as the "pigeon poop" — for years, and was told it would happen in his district in 2015 or 2016.

"When will this train be painted?" he asked at a press conference announcing the lawsuit, held on Roosevelt Avenue, as old paint chips could be seen peeling from the 7 train bridge just overhead.

The councilman said the trestle hasn't been painted in 35 years. An MTA spokesman denied it's been that long, but couldn't provide a date when it was last painted. 

"This isn't something new," Assemblyman Francisco Moya said. "This is a fight that's been continuing for a number of years and it's time to call the MTA out."

Tammy Rose, one of the plaintiffs, said she hopes the MTA will "live up to its mission statement" — which includes providing "clean transportation service."

She, along with Eddie Valentin, the owner of Club Evolution, and Dudley Stewart, who filed along with his children, Ruby and Spike, hope the lawsuit will spur action.

A spokesman for the MTA said they don't comment on pending lawsuits, but said their own air quality tests haven't found any dangerous conditions.