Soundview shops suffering from subway work

July 20, 2010 3:30:42 PM PDT
Retailers on Westchester Avenue in Soundview say they've seen a 60-75% drop in business.

That's the economic impact of an extensive subway construction project that blocks storefronts, eats up parking spaces and turns away customers.

"They didn't give us no warning or anything. They just came in one day with all the machinery and took over the whole block and like I said, they destroyed our business," said retailer, Eddie Vargas.

Vargas has layed-off two-thirds of his staff since the construction started several months ago.

At the furniture store next door, workers aren't sure they'll make it to the fall when the project is supposed to end.

"The employees who work the construction, they park all around here. There's nowhere to find a spot. 'So your customers will not come?' Absolutely," said retailer, Ehab Ahmad.

Retailers they have an example of the disrespect shown to them by the MTA.

Furniture store employees asked construction workers to move a container to allow for loading and unloading through the back door.

The front door is already blocked.

The next day, instead of one container, there were two.

For its part, an MTA spokesperson said in a statement: "The Morrison Avenue-Soundview station was shut down on February 8, 2010 for a full rehabilitation, including the replacement of canopies and track beds, refurbishing the mezzanine, new lighting and public address system, and the replacement of the platforms edges with tactile strips. This is part of a five-station rehabilitation project on the Pelham 6 line, at a cost of $89 million.

Personnel in our Division of Government & Community Relations have been in constant communication with businesses in the area, and we have accommodated the businesses' requests whenever possible. For example, we recently provided parking spaces for delivery trucks dealing with the stores in the area.

The project itself is on schedule to be completed by mid-September. NYC Transit regrets any inconvenience to our customers, as well as to the businesses in the area."

Meantime, residents admitted the subway work needs to be done.

But they added, the Transit Authority could have managed the project much better.

"I think it could be done when the shopping area is closed, at night, during the weekend at night, you know, outside of business hours," said Soundview resident, Carla Mena.

The MTA says the number 6 subway construction project should wrap up in September.