After nine months of construction and multiple delays, the new escalator at the Rockville Centre train station is finally up and running.
Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, confirmed that the escalator work was completed on Feb. 12, one day after a winter storm dumped over 11 inches of snow in the village.
“It’s better than nothing,” said Richard Ibrahim, who runs the newsstand inside the station. “Some people were complaining that the stairs weren’t painted.”
The old escalator was taken out of service last May so it could be demolished and the site prepared for construction. The original completion date was September, but structural issues at other stations along the Babylon line created the first delay. Long Island Railroad spokesman Sal Arena said in October that the new escalator “should be done by the end of December,” but the moving staircase had to be connected to a fire alarm system, creating a second postponement.
“The broken escalator at the Rockville Centre train station was a hardship for a number of residents and commuters who have limited mobility,” said village Mayor Francis X. Murray. “My office pleaded with MTA and LIRR officials to address the matter quickly. With thousands utilizing the train station daily, I am pleased to see that the Long Island Rail Road has heard our appeals and has taken the proper steps to making the necessary repairs to the escalator.”
Donovan explained that it was better for the MTA to install the new escalator and alarm system simultaneously, rather than re-install the old fire alarm system and make another change later on.
Rockville Centre was one of six stations on the Babylon line that the LIRR deemed most in need of replacement escalators. The other five were Amityville, Baldwin, Copiague, Freeport and Lindenhurst. The railroad allocated $14 million to fix the aging equipment.