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City officials are clambering to find space for displaced MTA buses after a West Side depot’s roof was said to be “a cave-in hazard”. W42ST visited the site to check out the cracks.
Around 120 buses need a new home after the Michael J Quill Depot, located at W40th Street and 11th Avenue, was flagged by the Department of Labor (DOL) in an inspection earlier this year (according to the New York Post). Repairs on the compromised roof have yet to be completed, despite years-long orders from the DOL.
“The Department of Buses was supposed to have addressed the conditions of the roof over [one-and-a-half] years ago and… nothing has been done or addressed,” DOL inspector Kwo Lam told bus officials in an email from March of this year. “It is not a matter of time but when can a cave-in hazard occur,” he said of the crumbling infrastructure, which has suffered enough water damage to cause cracks in the rooftop foundation, leaving the building vulnerable to further damage, an MTA engineer’s report issued after the DOL inspection noted.
MTA Spokesperson Joana Flores told the Post: “MTA professional engineers evaluated the roof and determined it to be structurally in a state of good repair, recommending repairs to maintain it in safe condition.”
While renovations on the depot won’t begin until next year, the MTA is looking for an immediate replacement hub for the fleet of vehicles as the building undergoes “partial closures” throughout the repair process, with several local venues in mind. In addition to surface lots at 126th Street and 30th Street, officials are considering the Department of Sanitation Garage at W57th Street and the Javits Center (home to plentiful underground parking created with the launch of their new North building).
Back in April on Earth Day, Governor Hochul and MTA CEO Janno Lieber stood on the cracked rooftop to announce the deployment of 60 zero-emission electric buses at six bus depots serving all five boroughs.
Community Board 4 (CB4) has been closely monitoring the situation, hoping to advocate for as little local traffic disruption as possible should more buses take to the streets in response to a lack of storage options.
“In the spirit of not wasting a good crisis we certainly hope that the MTA will take the opportunity to reduce the impact of its buses on the neighborhood in terms of both traffic congestion and air quality,” CB4 Transportation Chair Christine Berthet told W42ST. “Hundreds of buses crisscrossing and idling in the neighborhood is not a good combination in an area surrounded by thousands of new residents,” she added.
As for the long-term future of the structure, the CB4 Housing, Health and Human Services sub-committee has proposed that the site be repurposed to help with the city’s housing crisis. In a June meeting discussing potential rezoning, the board estimated that 1,891 new apartments, including 473 below-market units, could be added to the neighborhood amid historic vacancy lows. For now, the cracked roof of the depot awaits repair and the MTA’s vehicles remain in place.