2007-08-10 / Editorial/Opinion

Think of Infrastructure,Think Of The El

OPINIONS

The fatal bridge collapse in Minneapolis has officials all over the nation taking a second look at their bridges and other infrastructure. In many cases, they don't like what they see. Anumber of bridges in New York City, for example, have been rated as some degree of unsatisfactory. The two bridges that impact Rockaway most are not on that list. Both the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge have been upgraded recently, or are in the process of being upgraded. We are not too concerned with our bridges, but we are greatly concerned with the subway elevated structure, what most locals call the "El," that runs like an arrow straight down the peninsula from Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway to Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Park, a distance of some six miles - longer than any bridge. Take a walk under the El at any point along its route and look up. You will see exposed, rusting metal. You will see large portions of the concrete missing or mottled. You will see wrack and ruin. Ride on Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Seagirt Boulevard west. Look at the steps leading to the stations, to the stations themselves. They are rotting away. The elevated structure is a disaster waiting to happen. For many, the A-line subway is their lifeline from Rockaway to jobs in Manhattan. Thousands ride the line each day. Hundreds of motorists use the Rockaway Freeway, the road that runs below the elevated structure, especially now that Rockaway Beach Boulevard is closed in short stretches. Should the elevated structure fail, as did the Minneapolis bridge, hundreds of people could die in a split second of crumbling concrete and steel. Last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) promised to begin an upgrade of the El. So far, however, they have only completed track work on the structure. The El itself remains in great disrepair. The time to fix the elevated structure is now, before it becomes the next front page story in the nation's daily papers.

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