MTA Press Releases

Press Release
July 20, 2019
MTA New York City Transit to Install Netting Under Elevated Track Structures
Pilot Program to Test Feasibility of Netting to Capture Debris While Still Allowing Regular Inspections

MTA New York City Transit announced today that four locations under elevated structures in the subway system will have netting installed for a pilot program to test whether and how the material may capture potential hazards such as loose debris while still allowing regular inspections of the structure.

“We take reports of fallen debris from our elevated structures very seriously, because the condition of these structures is critical to safe train service and the safety of our neighbors,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “We are encouraged by the possible viability and off-the-shelf availability of this netting to provide peace of mind to those who traverse streets below our tracks, and will continue our rigorous inspections of these structures, which are often struck by vehicles and exposed to highly varying conditions year-round that can speed deterioration.”

Several NYC Transit subway lines operate on elevated structures for some of their routes throughout the system, partly due to the hard bedrock upon which New York City was built. These structures were built more than a century ago and remain safe for train operation, but due to their exterior locations, they are subject to extreme weather conditions and over-height vehicle strikes that can damage the steel structure, tracks and sensitive operating equipment such as signals. To ensure safe operating conditions, NYC Transit conducts regular track inspections weekly, as well as visual inspections of tracks from the street level monthly and comprehensive visual inspections of the steel structures annually.

NYC Transit engineers chose four locations for the netting pilot based on the results of these inspections, identifying two century-old elevated stations and two sections of elevated tracks on curves, which endure higher levels of stress and wear-and-tear from trains. The netting will be approximately 600 feet long and 50 feet wide, for a total of 30,000 square feet of coverage at each location. The netting is designed to capture items as small as a three-quarter inch bolt while retaining enough transparency to allow regular visual inspections of the elevated tracks – a key requirement to prevent this solution from introducing a new safety challenge or risk. Altogether, the netting pilot will provide approximately 120,000 square feet of coverage at the four locations.

The 61 St-Woodside station on the Flushing 7 Subway line and the 125 St station on the Broadway 1 Subway line were chosen due to a history of loose debris and their higher elevations. The 61 St-Woodside station, which opened in 1917, is located above Roosevelt Avenue, a main thoroughfare for trucks and other large vehicles, as well as a street-level Long Island Rail Road station. Owing to its age and exposure to weather conditions year-round, this location is particularly susceptible to deterioration that may cause debris to periodically fall from the structure.

Construction for the elevated track structure at 125 St began in 1900 and the station opened for service in 1904, making it one of the oldest elevated stations in the system. Netting will be installed under the station, which was built unusually high to maintain a level structure given the deep valley geography of Upper Manhattan.

The two other locations identified by Transit engineers are below the Jamaica J SubwayZ Subway line’s elevated structure between 121st Street and 111th Street, and below the elevated structure on the Astoria N SubwayW Subway line between the Queens Borough Plaza and 39 Av stations. Both locations were chosen due to the curvature of the tracks and the condition of the structures.

A $2 million contract for the netting on the Flushing 7 Subway line and the Jamaica J SubwayZ Subway line locations was awarded on July 5 to FOS. A second contract for approximately $2.6 million will be awarded at a later date, with installation scheduled to begin later this summer.