A 2 and a 1/2 foot section of a crumbling support column that holds up the VanWyck Expressway fell into a Parks Department parking lot in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park. The parking facility is used by thousands of people daily. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.
Late yesterday afternoon New York State DOT sent personnel to investigate. The agency says the two hundred pound debris is not from the Van Wyck overpass and are speculating that it was illegally dumped.
By Geoffrey Croft
Parks Department personnel at the Aquatic Center were alerted by a frightened park patron yesterday afternoon that a piece of the support column had broken off and come crashing down into the parking lot.
The reinforced concrete structures support the steel beams that hold up the 40-foot-high viaduct which was constructed between 1947 and 1963.
Dozens of sections under the elevated viaduct are severally deteriorated. Exposed rusted rebar and crumbling concrete sections are easily spotted along the more than half long mile section of the NY State DOT property.
Thousands of people park in the dangerous facility daily including park patrons using the aquatic center/Ice Arena, the Al Oerter Recreation Center, along with neighborhood businesses and area residents.
The incident occurred near stanchion # 73 located between the Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Aquatic Center/Ice Arena and the Al Oerter Recreation Center at Meridian Rd and East Rd & 131st St. in Flushing Queens.
The US Open also uses the parking facility.
“If that would have landed on someone they would have been dead,” said a Parks Department employee.
Faded spray paint marking off structural deficiencies can be seen at multiple locations.
“They clearly marked off areas that need to be repaired but it looks like that was done a few years ago,” said a Parks Department employee.
The two-hundred pound slab of concrete and metal came crashing down within inches of a parked vehicle. Thousands of people use the parking facility daily including park patrons and neighborhood businesses and area residents.
"I guess they’re waiting for something to happen.”
Park employees say this is not the first time sections have fallen.
“Lots of the columns that have deteriorated pretty badly, pieces have fallen all over the place. Park patrons pick up the smaller pieces and put them on the grass because they don’t want to run over them,“ an employee said.
Due to the overall condition of neglect, it's hard to imagine that the structural integrity has not been severally compromised by the defered mainainence.
"This is really scary," said a mother who was parked near the incident. The woman had just exited the ice rink with her two children, an eight-year-old and two month-old daughter.
"They are not maintaining it. "
The dangerous infrastructure isn’t the only issue according to several park employees.
The poorly lite facility is also popular with thieves stealing car parts.
“Almost every day someone complains about getting ripped off,” said a law enforcement source.
"The city has also known about this for a long time.”