MTA Says New Granite Is Already Waiting -- But A Project Stands In The Way

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has been close to three years since a truck knocked over a stone railing at Grand Central Terminal, leaving a scar on the railway depot’s historic profile.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the accident happened on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. So why has it taken so long to fix the damage?

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It was a shocking scene when chunks of concrete rained down on 42nd Street, after a semi-trailer truck smashed into the railing – known as a balustrade – on the elevated Park Avenue viaduct that wraps around Grand Central.

Truck driver Joe He’bert had never taken his 18-wheeler into the city before and never saw the sign telling him only passenger cars were allowed on the elevated section of Park Avenue, where his rig ran out of room.

There were no injuries, but the balustrade was left with chunks missing. How long would you think repairs would take?

“I would say maybe three or four weeks, tops,” said one person visiting from Chicago.

“Couple months?” another said.

Some were less optimistic.

“I would assume that would take like a year. I don’t know,” said Vito Casalinuovo.

But now, it has been almost three years, and the damage has not been fixed.

“It’s no railing. It’s still missing after three years,” said Stephanie Evans of Mount Vernon.

“Why isn’t it back?” added Woodley Avril of Midwood, Brooklyn.

CBS2 put that question to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which admitted that it had no trouble acquiring the material to repair the broken balustrade.

It turns out the Bradford, Connecticut quarry that produced the granite for the structure 100 years ago is still in business, and new pieces have been fabricated. Spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the new pieces have been shipped from St. Sebastian, Quebec, to match the original stone.

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They are in storage in the basement of Grand Central Terminal, Anders said.

But why haven’t they been installed?

It turns out that in 2007, the MTA and the city agreed to waterproof the viaduct road to keep water out of Grand Central. Eight years later, that work is finally being done.

“It doesn’t make sense to install it then disturb it to install the waterproofing,” Anders said in a statement. “The proper sequence is to install it after completion of that work. “

Thus, damage caused in 2012 will finally be repaired in late 2015.

“Government work always takes longer,” said one of the Chicago tourists.

“I’m not surprised at all,” added Evans. “It’s just New York.”

The court case stemming from the incident is also grinding slowly. Lawyers are still negotiating over how much the trucking company will pay for the damage its driver caused.

The MTA released a full statement following CBS2’s story, saying:

“The railroad has had a replacement balustrade custom fabricated from Stony Creek granite quarried in Branford, Connecticut to match the original stone.

The stone was shipped to St. Sebastian, Quebec to be sculpted to match the shape of the original balusters.

It is in storage in Grand Central’s basement awaiting completion of the long-planned, extensive roadway deconstruction, waterproofing and reconstruction now underway on the viaduct. It doesn’t make sense to install it then disturb it to install the waterproofing. The proper sequence is to install it after completion of that work.

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The replacement balustrade is on schedule will be installed by the end of this year and the entire viaduct waterproofing project is to be complete by December 2016.”