Train wreck: MTA’s million-dollar makeover of Kings Highway hub didn’t fix problems, pol says

Train wreck: MTA’s million-dollar makeover of Kings Highway hub didn’t fix problems, pol says
Clean it up: Assemblyman William Colton, seen here inside Gravesend’s Kings Highway station back when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority kicked off its multi-million-dollar repair project, claimed the pricey project did nothing to fix chronic problems at the hub.
File photo by Dennis Lynch

A Bensonhurst assemblyman blasted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for spending more than $40 million to install countdown clocks and make other cosmetic changes to a subway station in his district instead of fixing chronic problems such as leaks and mold.

Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst) accused leaders of the state-run agency of wasting money on unnecessary aesthetic enhancements that do nothing to solve the issues riders of the beleaguered subway system face every day at Gravesend’s Kings Highway station.

“This is a perfect example of how the MTA wastes billions of dollars. Before they can expect to get the system running again properly, they have to correct the issues that they have,” Colton said. “They have to be accountable, they have to be transparent.”

The recent repairs came as part of a $395.7-million capital project that the transit agency kicked off in 2016, which included adding the clocks, cameras, and coats of fresh paint, as well as fixing the platforms, stairways, handrails, columns at N-train stations including Kings Highway, Bay Parkway, Fort Hamilton Parkway, 86th Street, Eighth, Eighteenth, 20th, and New Utrecht avenues.

Authority honchos suspended Manhattan-bound service for more than a year after the job kicked off in January 2016, resuming it last year and suspending Coney Island–bound to begin work on that side of the station.

Colton acknowledged that workers did fix some leaks during the makeover of Kings Highway station, but claimed Authority reps for four months have ignored his reports of new water-spewing ruptures, peeling paint, and black mold inside the hub.

“They’ve had notice of it and they’ve failed to do anything to correct this problem,” Colton said. “I gave them every possible chance without having to embarrass them with a press conference.”

The pol said he first notified the agency about fresh leaks and water damage in a July e-mail, and claimed transit officials responded by adding a metal gutter drain — which he said causes torrents of groundwater to flood the platform where straphangers wait to catch trains.

His office again in September reported more ongoing leaks, and Authority reps promised to contact the station’s manager to correct the issues, he claimed.

But officials never made good on any further repairs, according to Colton, who said his office most recently complained about the mold on Oct. 29, and the lack of response since proves Authority leaders have no interest in getting to the root of the problems plaguing Kings Highway station.

“I guess they just wanted to do a cosmetic job, as the MTA always does,” he said. “But this time they wasted $396 million of taxpayers’ money.”

Transit-agency workers will begin to fix the issues Colton pointed out “shortly,” Authority spokesman Shams Tarek said, adding that officials hope to finish the work “as soon as possible.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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