Do you ride the M-train into and out of Manhattan? A proposed five-month repair of the Williamsburg Bridge threatens to create a commuter nightmare and tremendous commuter inconvenience for residents of Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Ridgewood, Glendale, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, who daily take this train into and out of Manhattan. A massive trestle, the structure that holds the bridge’s subway tracks, is to be re-built. This construction will halt train service over theWilliamsburg Bridge for the M, J and Z trains.

I live in Middle Village, Queens and commute daily into lower Manhattan via the M-train. Currently, I travel approximately thirty-five minutes on the train into Manhattan. My commute time will certainly double and probably triple with train transfers and time spent waiting for alternative trains.

I have seen a total of only two articles pertaining to the bridge overhaul. One in Newsday (A34, dated, 9/11/98), and the other article in the Daily News (Queens section, page 1, dated, 12/14/98). TA spokesman, Al O’Leary is quoted in the Daily News, “We want to help make this project progress as efficiently as possible and with the least impact on our customers.” This article also states: “For more than 90,000, daily riders who use the bridge's three lines, the $130 million project will add an extra hour to their commutes as they switch to other train lines or buses, according to new Transit Authority project documents.” Commuter delays will be much more than one hour with train transfers. There has to be a viable alternative than to disrupt the commute of 90,000 daily riders. In a Newsday article, MTA spokesman Tom Kelly is quoted as saying: “This is something that has been in the works for quite awhile, part of the overall reconstruction of the bridge by city DOT. It’s not a question of imminent danger or anything like that. It's an opportunity to up-grade and modernize the lines.” Since there is no imminent danger, there are some questions which need answering:

•Why can’t this construction work be done at times other than during rush hour so, the train could continue over the bridge during rush hour? I understand there is an important safety issue so, this construction should proceed. However, if there is no imminent danger and this work can wait until May 1999 to start, why can’t construction take place during off hours? Limit service if necessary, but allow the train to complete runs into and out of Manhattan during rush hour.
•The Daily News article mentions the possibility of building a bypass track that could go above the track section to be worked on. It might make the job longer but, the trade off is it would alleviate constituents' commuting nightmare. Why not construct a bypass track?

I’ ve written to Claire Shulman, our Borough President, to request her assistance in looking into these questions and
to have the following done:

1) Contact the city Department of Transportation to find out all the facts.
2) Call a meeting to have these facts and questions addressed. I would hope that at such a meeting all aspects of this construction could be discussed and the continuation of the running of the train (during rush hour or on a bypass track) explored and seriously considered.

I would request that the Juniper Park Civic Association champion this cause, to look for a way to keep the M-train running into and out of Manhattan (at least during rush hour) during the proposed five-month repair of the Williamsburg Bridge to begin in May 1999.

Take the time and effort to relay how you feel to the people who can make a difference. Your elected representatives are listed in the back of this issue of The Juniper Berry. Please take the time to have your voice heard by calling, writing and/or faxing your local, state, and national representatives. We elected these individuals to have our voices heard. Let’s have our voices heard!