Many of them were built more than a century ago, and have accumulated significant damage from extreme weather conditions, vehicles running into their steel structures and usual wear-and-tear.
Although the MTA conducts weekly track inspections and monthly visual inspections of tracks from the street level, incidents happen that put street users below in harm’s way.
Earlier this year, a beam that fell from the 7 train structure in Woodside crashed through a car windshield. Weeks later, loose debris rained down in a similar area, striking a moving car.
Last week, an Astoria resident crossing under the Ditmars Boulevard station on the N/W lines was nearly struck by a plastic flashlight that fell from the platform.
These incidents may be flukes –– the MTA has set up proper safety protocols to prevent them –– but they still happen.
That’s why riders embraced the news last month that the MTA will install netting under four elevated track structures, including at 61st Street on the 7 line and Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue on the N/W lines.
The MTA said it’s a pilot program to test whether the netting can capture “potential hazards” while also allowing regular inspections of the structure.
It’s a common-sense solution that acts as a literal and figurative safety net for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
On Monday, Councilman Costa Constantinides called on the MTA to expand the pilot program to the rest of the N/W line in Queens, citing the recent incident in Astoria.
There’s no harm in extending the netting all the way to Ditmars Boulevard. In fact, it may prevent other freak incidents from occurring.
The MTA should follow Constantinides’s recommendation to the benefit of all street users.