Business owners and residents who work and live underneath the Jamaica Ave. el have long called upon the MTA to spruce up the tracks. (Photo via The New York Times)
When the current BMT Jamaica elevated open east of Cypress Hills in 1918, the city’s papers hailed this subway expansion project. The new line, part of a city-wide expansion effort, provided a fast, five-cent trip from Jamaica and Richmond Hills to Manhattan for just $2 million, and the rail route had space for, in the words of a contemporaneous report, “a centre track to be constructed for use of express trains at some future time.”
The third track never arrived because subsequent engineering studies determined that the vibrations would damage the elevated structure, and since then, the BMT Jamaica line has often seemed to be an afterthought in the eyes of those in charge of the subway. For the past quarter century, alleged one area business owner who has pushed the MTA for renovations, the elevated has been allowed to degrade, and rusty supports and flaking paint mar an otherwise lively neighborhood.
“Our avenue is clean and bright and very vibrant,” Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven BID said to The TimesDaily News, the MTA will overhaul the Jamaica Ave. el, currently home to the J and Z trains. As part of a $20-$30 million capital renovation set to begin next year, the authority will “rehabilitate steel girders and paint almost 3 miles of the line between the Cypress Hills station and 130th St.” The project should last approximately 30 months, and business owners — who have been promised similar renovations in the past — are holding their breaths. Perhaps the octogenarian elevated will shine again.