ASTORIA – The Astoria stations on the N and W line finally reopened on June 22 after 8 months of renovations which upgraded the aesthetics and the technology of the stations. Of course, this development has made the business-owners near the stations extremely happy, after they saw the foot traffic in their quarters decline and their turnover drop, since the metro stations are considered “nuclear weapons” for the local businesses.
“I have been on 30th Avenue for 45 years, I do not remember a happier day than today. We have had many difficulties, all the businesspeople. Finally a happy ending, all well, the work is finished and the station opened again. As you can see, today we have a huge crowd on the 30th Avenue,” United Brothers owner Tom Kourkoumelis told The National Herald. He had expressed his concern at the time of the announcement that the work would be extended.
“It was very bad and there was a great deal of damage to us all. It was not just the train, but the work that closed the streets. Fortunately, today the station opened and I wish things get better. From what I was told, the work was worth it, but it was difficult for us,” “says Vangelis Amvrosiatos, a manager at a pastry shop in the area.
The 36th and 30th Avenue stations closed last October, with the prospect of opening again on April 1st. However, it was decided to extend the timetable for more than two months, with a deadline of June 22, which proved to be accurate.
At the same time, the shopkeepers had protested, and even elected officials questioned the practical usefulness of the work, in relation to the time of their implementation and the side effects.
“Those who said we could benefit from the neighboring stations made a big mistake. Do you know anyone who will come to 30th Avenue and carry 5 bags from the supermarket or a watermelon and go as far as Broadway? We were in a worse situation than 31st Avenue. Today, I’m glad to see! Yesterday, at this time of day, there was not even one person to be seen,” Mr. Kourkoumelis said.
In fact, the pastry shop owner, Panagiotis Kambitsis, told TNH that at his shop many customers who had not come in for several months, came in and told his colleagues how much they missed them.
Aesthetic and technological upgrading
Regarding the new look and status of the stations, there is no doubt that there is a major difference before and after, because apart from the radical aesthetic upgrade, there are also facilities that until a few months ago were considered… luxuries: clocks showing arrival times, glass dividers, digital screens for real-time updates, a USB charging station, improved lighting, and works of art.
The electronic security measures were also upgraded with surveillance cameras at the entrances.
“To begin with, this work should have been done years ago. I went and saw it, the station is very nice. It will be an opportunity for the stores to go up, as in the last few months work has dropped here, “said Costas Manesis, while Panagiotis Kampitsis was in favor of a full upgrade of the New York transit system.
“The New York transit system is old and needs refurbishment. There are a lot of people. The 30th Avenue station was closed for eight months, but there is worse. Some other stations will close for years,” “he said.
Next Stop 39th Avenue and Broadway Stations
Since Friday, the N and W have been working well – not counting weekend work – but for a long time. All this as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) prepares the second phase of work on the “cluster” with Broadway and the 39th Avenue stations, which served the passengers during this time, scheduled to close on July 2.
The work will also last eight months, and the stations are expected to take on a similar look as those at 30th and 36th Avenues. The total cost of the aesthetic and technological upgrading program developed by the MTA is $150 million.
The 30th and 36th Avenue N and W stations in Astoria reopened on June 22. (Photo by TNH/Costas Bej)
United Brothers owner Tom Kourkoumelis is just one of the many business owners happy to see the Astoria train stations reopened. Photo by Costas Bej