When concrete kept raining down on transit workers at Mosholu Train Yard in the Bronx, the MTA’s response was to hand out helmets.
Fed up union officials decided to shut the site down this week.
“Enough is enough,” said Crystal Young, a TWU rep for Rapid Transit Operation workers.
Mosholu Train Yard has been closed since Monday, after Transport Workers Union Local 100 officials decided that workers were in imminent danger, according to Young.
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“Giving helmets to our members is not acceptable,” she said. “If you have a piece 3-feet long falling from the ceiling, there’s no way a helmet on your head is going to help you when a rock is falling.”
Transit workers there say for years, falling rocks and hunks of concrete have been falling from the parking lot of Tracey Towers, which looms over the tracks at the Mosholu Yard.
Young said that requests for netting were rebuffed after the MTA did a “tap test” on columns on March 31.
Instead, NYC Transit handed out blue helmets.
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Young experienced first-hand what transit workers faced at Mosholu during a walk-through of the site with a group of TWU safety reps.
“Rocks were falling to the yard when we were walking through there,” said Young, who was wearing a helmet. “It was falling on my head.”
Video taken by TWU officials showed large jagged slabs and softball-sized pieces of concrete laying on the tracks.
Contractors for Tracey Towers began repair work on the parking lot April 10, until they were ordered to stop when they stepped outside of the approved workzone, according to MTA NYC Transit spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
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“The area has been closed off and we are conducting sound and tap operations to make sure the area is safe before returning trains and crews to the area,” he said. “The issuing of helmets to train crews are done regularly out of an abundance of caution.”
While Mosholu Train Yard is closed, MTA is storing trains at nearby Concourse Yard and in spare sections of track.
Melanie Johnson, a train operator who’s worked at the Mosholu Yard for the past five years, said the helmets would not protect her life.
“If a large piece of concrete falls and it hits me on the head and I fall out and I hit the third rail, that’s it for me,” said Johnson, a 30-year transit worker.
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She said that Mosholu Train Yard has been a safety hazard for too long.
“Unfortunately, it has to damage their equipment or someone has to get seriously injured before they actually do something,” she said.
Donald Miller, a spokesman for RY Management, which oversees Tracey Towers, said that its contractor is working six days a week to finish the repair work that’s expected to be complete over the next nine weeks.
“There are numerous safeguards in place, including safety netting, flagmen, and other procedures onsite to ensure that no workers are at risk of injury due to falling debris,” Miller said in a statement. “We have received no reports of any workers struck or injured due to falling debris as a result of the work in question, and we remain committed to ensuring that safety is our top priority.”
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