Surviving New York Subway Construction

Peter Fedynsky

Residents and business owners along a new subway line in New York - which has been under construction since 2007 - say the ongoing project is making their lives miserable and costing them money.

Francisco Quijada first looked out of the window of his interior design store more than 45 years ago and he says the view was as bright as his future.  No more.   

“I gave up cleaning them, because it cost me money and I know very well that within a week or so they’re going to be the same way,” said Quijada.

Quijada said the construction obstructs the entrance to his store and has cut his business in half. Many pedestrians, including potential customers, walk on the opposite side of the street or avoid Second Avenue altogether. Many shops have closed. He added that no one has gotten government compensation and many entrepreneurs have depleted their savings.

Neighborhood resident Faye Young has another complaint.

“The noise is very disturbing. It’s also very frightening. You would almost think you’re being attacked when they dynamite. It’s like having a bomb go off,” said Young.

Quijada described the explosions as mini earthquakes and he said the blasts have caused cracks in his walls.

Entrepreneurs describe good relations with construction workers and they say some support Second Avenue business people. But the entrepreneurs complain that meetings with public officials have gone nowhere.

“They were much too busy to hear our complaints; to hear our calamity. They came almost like they were going to the circus to see the freaks,” said Quijada.

New York City transit officials declined VOA’s request for an on camera interview.  But former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder was upbeat about progress when a boring machine opened a tunnel last September.

“This is fantastic. You know, when you stand above ground it's sometimes hard to see whether or not there's progress on this project. You come down here and you see the Second Avenue tunnel taking shape right before our eyes,” said Walder.

Restaurateur Dave Goodside said he has laid off employees and taken out loans to survive the multi-year construction period. But he acknowledges the subway’s ultimate benefit.

“If you have an apartment on 72nd street that’s only a block away from the subway, that’s what you’re going to be selling, and that apartment will be worth more money, the city is going to tax that value,” said Goodside.

Quijada and others say that is small compensation if they cannot stay in business long enough to reap the reward.

The project is being built in stages. Completion has been pushed back to 2016.

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