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Commuters Frustrated By Slow Pace Of Elevator Construction At Queens Subway Station

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A major subway station makeover is way behind schedule, and some riders say it's making their lives miserable. The problem is significantly worse for the disabled.

The MTA began building a wheelchair-accessible elevator in 2014 at the Lefferts Boulevard station in Richmond Hill, Queens, but three years later, it is unfinished and unusable, CBS2's Reena Roy reported. A sign on site says the $29 million project was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.

Roy asked the MTA for an on-camera interview more than once, but the agency declined, only saying problems with utilities caused delays, among other issues, and that it will be completed later this year.

Roy spotted one man riding down the stairs in his wheelchair.

"It's hard to travel spontaneously when you arrive to your station and there's no elevator access, and then you have to figure out what am I going to do from here," said another commuter in a wheelchair.

The holdup is also causing chaos even for those who can take the stairs because one of two key stairways has also been closed for a while.

"It's an inconvenience, that's all we have to say," one woman said.

The construction is also affecting business owners. Fencing from the construction is taking over both sides of Liberty Avenue, blocking parking and storefronts. Some owners say business is down as much as 50 percent.

Jimmy Sfaknos, owner of G.P. Diner, said business is the worst he's seen in his 38 years there.

"They keep telling us another two months, two months, two months -- and three years have passed," said Neena Gogna, owner of Glamour Beauty Parlor. "I mean, as you can see on the street, nobody can even see my business."

Councilman Eric Ulrich said the community has been asking for an elevator for a decade. He said he will push the agency more now.

"I'm just outraged we've gotten so many complaints from angry constituents and people in this community who are saying, 'Where is the elevator at Lefferts Boulevard?'" Ulrich said.

The nonprofit Center for Independence of the Disabled New York said it just filed a lawsuit against the MTA for lack of elevator access citywide.


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