MTA Officials: All Elevated Tracks Will Be Inspected After Wooden Beam Incident

February 22, 2019 - 6:15 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — All 186 miles of elevated subway track in the five boroughs will be examined after a crumbling piece of subway debris crashed through the windshield of a moving vehicle Thursday afternoon.

Transit Authority President Andy Byford on Friday made the announcement while stressing that the plank of wood that pierced the window of the SUV was not an actual piece of subway track.

“That piece of wood had nothing to do with the structure of the actual elevated section itself it wasn't track it wasn't a tie, a railroad tie,” Byford said.

He noted that the plank of wood may have once been part of a deck built to support a paint job possibly decades ago, but added that he and the rest of the MTA were shocked to by the incident.

“We’re very relieved that no one was hurt,” Byford said.

Following the incident, transit officials will begin combing all elevated tracks in the city to see if there may be other unsecured items.

Though, as WCBS 880’s Steve Burns reported, the MTA's chief safety officer Pat Warren was unable to answer the question of when the station in Woodside was last inspected before the wooden beam fell, nearly killing a for-hire driver in Queens.

“The track inspections happen daily, that's why they walk the track of drive across the track to find what’s okay but, under the elevated area, I can't tell you at this time,” Warren told reporters.

The MTA aims to answer the question during its investigation.

Meanwhile, those who support the congestion pricing have used the incident to once again push lawmakers to approve the plan in order to fund the MTA’s much-needed improvements.

“Our infrastructure is literally crumbling, congestion pricing needs to be done now,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos on Friday.

Most riders seemed to agree. WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond spoke with Jennifer Stahl, of Jackson Heights, as she struggled to navigate a Queens subway station with a baby stroller.

“I feel like this is a disaster and I think all of us need to pay more,” she said.

In light of the incident, the Riders Alliance was out touring the city’s crumbling transit network with local lawmakers that have the power to make congestion pricing happen.

The group has frequently pushed the state to pass Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan to fund the MTA’s much-needed repairs.

“We have a critical opportunity in a small window of time that is closing with every single day— I think there’s 37 days left until the state budget is due in Albany,” said Daniel Coates, director of campaigns and organizing for the Riders Alliance.

He adds that subway improvements “cannot all happen with congestion pricing, but it cannot happen without congestion pricing.”

In the past, a governor's panel recommended congestion pricing tolls of $11.52 for cars, and more than $25 for trucks. The MTA is hoping to collect tolls beginning as soon as 2021.

Cuomo and many lawmakers, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, support the toll for vehicles entering the busiest parts of Manhattan as a way to discourage traffic while also raising money for subway upgrades and repairs.