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Demanding Answers: MTA On Hot Seat Following Yet Another Case Of Debris Falling From Elevated Tracks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Wooden beams, chunks of metal and, recently, a rusty screw have fallen from elevated train tracks in Queens.

CBS2 has reported on the falling debris over the last year and told you about safeguards installed to protect property and people below.

But on Tuesday, the safeguards didn't work, prompting reporter Dave Carlin to demand answers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Crashing down hundreds of feet from the tracks at Queensboro Plaza was a 6-inch rusty bolt. It was driver Philip Garcia's turn to deal with dents, broken glass and frayed nerves.

"I hope they're not waiting for someone to die for them to do something about it, but it seems like that's what they're waiting for," Garcia told CBS2 on Tuesday.

subway platform debris
A bolt from an elevated subway platform smashes a car roof on Oct. 22, 2019. (Credit: Philip Garcia)

No one was injured, resulting in a "Thank God" comment when Carlin questioned Patrick Foye, the MTA's chairman and CEO.

When asked for the latest on the investigation, Foye said, "We are very focused on it."

This year alone, there have been nearly half a dozen of these types of instances, with scary close calls for pedestrians and drivers.

They resulted in more metal netting and baskets for the bolts that sometimes shake loose from joints where rails meet. When positioned properly, the bolts cannot fall through.

A similar container was in place under the one that hit Garcia's vehicle.

"There is a system in place. It obviously didn't work," Foye said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Carlin learned that the basket somehow became misaligned by several inches.

Records show the MTA inspected this site on Oct. 17, just five days before the bolt came down, Carlin reported.

MTA sources said the inspector should have seen both a bolt in bad shape and a basket out of position.

But some scoff at the idea that wire baskets are enough.

"We're a world-class city and we deserve to have world-class infrastructure that keeps our residents safe at a bare minimum. I don't think the current response is sufficient," commuter Nick Johnson said.

A possible solution is to have not only the baskets, but also the wire netting, even if that seems redundant.

CBS2 has learned the inspector who missed the out-of-position basket and loose bolt in Tuesday's case could face disciplinary action.

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