Ooze drips from A train tracks over Liberty Avenue

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Mark Groce, a spokesman for...

By Alex Davidson

A city official blamed the record amount of rain that inundated New York City in June as the reason why a toxic substance leaked onto and then damaged parked cars on a strip of road below Ozone Park’s elevated subway tracks.

Mark Groce, a spokesman for New York City Transit, said the rain did not allow the chemical creosote to dry on installed wooden ties that were put in place in January between 89th Street and Lefferts Boulevard.

The agency, a division of the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, uses the tar-like chemical to preserve wood pieces and prevent them from weathering.

“We tried wrapping them (the ties) in cloth, but that did not work too well,” he said. “We have now wrapped them in burlap and that seems to be working better.”

Groce was reacting to complaints he received from area residents who parked their cars underneath the elevated A train subway tracks and then came back to find the sticky, brown substance covering their cars.

The substance does not dissolve using either water or conventional soap.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), speaking during an interview in Forest Park June 30, said his office was organizing claims forms for people whose cars had been damaged. A spokeswoman at his office confirmed Monday that the city councilman’s office is still working on processing claims forms.

He said he would not be surprised if a group of victims decided together to file a class-action lawsuit against the transportation agency to claim further damages.

The councilman also said he did not know why New York City Transit neglected to warn residents and drivers that the coating used on the wooden ties was weather sensitive, with the potential that the creosote could leak and then stick onto cars.

Groce confirmed that borough and city residents can file claims with his agency by contacting its legal department at 718-694-3821.

He said there are no further plans to address the situation on the elevated subway tracks.

There is another construction project underway to the elevated subway tracks along Liberty Avenue. The project, between 116th Street and 118th Street on the busy thoroughfare, includes three blocks of spray-painted tarps that take up an entire lane of traffic and are suspended at least 20 feet from the bottom of the elevated tracks down to the street.

Groce was unaware of the specific construction activity on the eastern portion of Liberty Avenue but said the two projects were unrelated.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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