Ramping up improvements to train station

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Nearly 19 miles away from Penn Station on the Far Rockaway line of the Long Island Rail Road sits the Cedarhurst train station. It is designated as a handicapped accessible station with a ramp, but local residents are looking to improve access to the elevated platform.

“Right now, it only benefits the people who actually know that it’s there,” Ellen Wolff, a Cedarhurst resident for the last eight years, said about the ramp.

As a photographer, her work requires her to transport heavy equipment that she moves on wheels. She said she often has to allow an additional 20 minutes to get from her apartment, which is about one and a half blocks away from the station, on the corner of Maple and Central avenues, to the ramp on Washington Avenue — about one half of a mile away.

To access the ramp from the ticket machines and waiting room, one must travel eastbound on Chestnut Street, through the parking lot of Gourmet Glatt, to the railroad crossing on Washington Avenue. Narrow sidewalks, shoppers, vehicular traffic, a telephone pole and private property at the back of the store prevent a direct route from the ticket machine to the ramp. Ticket machines are located on the street level on the westbound side of the station outside the waiting room, which has both a ramp and steps to enter.

“We inspected the ramp on January 9 and have determined that it is in complete compliance with all codes. But the railroad is always interested in considering ways to improve access for the disabled,” Aaron Donovan, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman, said.

Dr. Allan B. Simon, a Five Towns resident for the past 35 years, said he is concerned about the lack of handicap access to the Cedarhurst Long Island Railroad platform. “The Cedarhurst station should have access for all,” Simon said.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation is prohibited.

The MTA, which owns the LIRR, provides an opportunity for commuters to submit a reasonable modification request or complaint on its website to ensure that its transportation services are accessible to disabled individuals.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged the Federal Railroad Administration on March 10 to move quickly with using the $5.2 million in Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grants Program funds that were given to the New York State Department of Transportation six months ago. The funds will be used to improve 53 rail grade crossings along LIRR and Metro-North lines, state officials said.

Michael Katanov, owner of Mikel’s Professional Alterations and Dry Cleaning on Chestnut Street, across from the train station, said he does not know of anyone who has a problem accessing the train platform. “It’s going to be much better if [MTA officials] get easier access for [handicapped people],” he said.

“The ramp is in a bad location,” Cedarhurst resident Walter Leal said. He said he thinks the ramp should be more centrally located near the ticket machines and waiting room to make it more convenient for those that require it.

Fran Sicklick, a Cedarhurst resident for the last 50 years, recalled the days when there was no platform. “It was very beautiful when it was level,” she said, adding that the platform was constructed about 30 years ago.

To submit a request or complaint to the LIRR go to http://bit.ly/2mCKHOB.