Netting planned after woman nearly hit by falling debris from under 7 train in Queens

WOODSIDE, Queens (WABC) -- A woman was nearly hit by debris falling from under the 7 train in Queens Monday, the latest in a series of such incidents in New York City in recent months.

Erin Koster was walking near another woman across Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside just as a 7 train was going by overhead.

"So we were probably 6 to 10 feet out in the street, and two pieces fell between us," she said.

The pieces were small, maybe a couple of pounds of metal each, but they fell from the elevated tracks 30 feet above.

It has now happened four times since February in the same area, once smashing a car window.

Tuesday, MTA crews went up in a boom to underneath the tracks to secure anything else from falling near the 52nd Street station.

The MTA is reconsidering a temporary fix that would involve netting in limited locations around the city, including the 7 line.

"This is a really busy subway stop here on the 7 line," New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. "There's a school not too far away, so families are walking across Roosevelt Avenue all day long."

The incidents have changed how people look at public transportation.

"I can't believe this is still happening, I've seen photos of it happening to people's cars," Koster said. "My husband and I don't drive under here anymore at all because I don't want stuff falling on the car, I have children. I don't want that to happen."
After the first three incidents, Van Bramer wrote a letter to New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford asking him to install netting that would catch the debris as it fell.

"Andy Byford said to me in that letter in response to the first three incidents, they've checked everything, they've checked everything twice, they believe it's safe," Van Bramer said. "And the netting solution is not something they're prepared to go forward at this time."

But after the latest incident, Byford has apparently changed his mind. In a statement Monday, he said, "We are working to quickly put into place an initial deployment of netting to understand if it can be used to contain debris while also still providing enough visibility and access to perform regular inspections." But he said installing it would create major traffic delays and limit the MTA's ability to perform maintenance.

Residents just want to know what took them so long.

"I always hear they need money to fix stuff and there's not enough money coming in for them to fix stuff, but there probably should be some kind of safety steps being taken," Koster said.

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