Midtown shops worry about subway elevator construction

Several business owners on 7th Avenue at 55th Street in Manhattan say the MTA stunned them with the news that it is installing a subway elevator on their block and it will take at least three years to complete.

Workers will install 5-foot-tall fences like those erected for the 2nd Avenue subway construction. The fences and construction killed many of the businesses on 2nd Avenue.

Dan Bruck, the owner of Danielle B. Jewelry, said he could go out of business after 40 years in the neighborhood.

The work begins next week. The business owners said they were just notified seven days ago. But the MTA told me that it has been speaking to businesses in the area for weeks and months.

Bruck called that a "complete lie" and that the first he heard of the work was April 20.

Steve Dertouzos owns the Park Cafe Restaurant. He lost one of his other restaurants on 2nd Avenue because of the subway construction. He is afraid of losing this one due to a drop in foot traffic and customers. He said his rent is $44,000 per month and he is afraid he will have to close.

The MTA said it has been continually blasted for not having subway elevators to provide access for riders with physical challenges. Now it is installing elevators at about 20 subway stations that don't currently have them.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which is usually critical of the MTA, supports the installations. Nick Sifuentes said the benefits to disabled, elderly, and pregnant subway riders far outweigh the temporary cost to the businesses.