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Elevators Open at Forest Hills Subway Station

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TWC News: Elevators Open at Forest Hills Subway Station
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Friday moved a subway station in Forest Hills closer to meeting its goal for stops that are accessible to riders with disabilities. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

It's one of the busiest subway stations in Queens, with four lines, close to 30,000 riders daily - and no elevator.

That is, until Friday, when the wraps came off on not one but three elevators at the Forest Hills-71st Avenue station. Their arrival had been long-awaited by commuters.

"We've lived in the area for over three years and waited the whole time, with rumors that it was coming," said one resident.

Well, wait no more, as local and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials marked the completion of a $24 million job that started in 2011.

"Finally, they got it going on, but this went on for months and months and months," said one person in the neighborhood.

Two elevators move riders between the mezzanine and the platforms, but transit officials said installing one at Queens Boulevard and 70th Road proved trickiest. It leads into the station.

"There were some utilities that had to be moved in order to get the elevator in at the street level," said Carmen Bianco, president of New York City Transit. "That was done, and here we are."

Not a moment too soon, said riders who get around on wheelchairs.

"This makes my life different in so many different ways," said Dustin Jones, who uses a wheelchair in the subway. "As you can tell, this is a busy area, and I believe that having an accessible elevator to get into the subway station is actually a great thing."

It's the 81st of the MTA's 468 subway stations to become fully accessible.

The completion of the job brings the number of stations in Queens that are compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act to 12. Next up is the Ozone Park/Lefferts Boulevard station on the A line. That job is set to be done by 2016.

The MTA plans to get to 100 fully accessible stations, something elected officials say is a must.

"It is just a necessity," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "And this is not a choice. This is what we need to do."

Not just for riders with disabilities, either.

"It's also for mothers with strollers," said state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky of Queens. "It's for people with luggage to get to the airport."

Elderly riders, too.

"It's great," said one rider. "Now, we don't have to walk down."

So take a ride on the elevator, because your wait is over, at least until you're looking for that next train.

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