Repairing the railraoad

Lynbrook LIRR station to receive $17.9 million upgrade

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After several months of negotiations among local elected officials and Long Island Rail Road representatives, the Lynbrook train station is set to undergo a $17.9 million renovation, which commuters and officials say is long overdue.

“We in the Village of Lynbrook are all very excited to finally be getting upgrades to our train station,” Mayor Alan Beach said. “We would like to thank all those whose hard work and dedication helped to make this happen for the village.”

The project will begin next spring and be completed by the end of 2020, with $10 million going toward platform-level upgrades, including the renovation of both platforms, the construction of two new canopies and two new glass waiting rooms, and the installation of security cameras, LED lighting and free Wi-Fi at the station. An additional $6 million will fund concrete viaduct repairs, while $1.5 million will be allocated for structural support work. Beach said he did not anticipate the construction disrupting commutes or altering train schedules. The upgrades will be funded under the LIRR’s Capital Program, which is upgrading several stations. The effort began in 2015 and will wind down in 2019. Additional funding for the Lynbrook station will be sought as part of the next Capital Program, beginning in 2020, for a proposed second round of improvements, which will include sidewalk repairs, renovations of the station’s depot, the installation of bike racks and an information center, the replacement of benches and exterior columns, repair of asphalt and concrete curbs, and the replacement of bird-deterrent netting.

LIRR President Phillip Eng confirmed the plans on Monday, and said in a news release that he had had many discussions with LIRR customers and attended various events and meetings to gather feedback on needed improvements.

“Since joining the LIRR in April, I’ve taken a hard look at our system, operations and capital projects with a focus on making decisions to prioritize necessary initiatives and get them finished sooner rather than later,” Eng said. “Lynbrook station is in need of these repairs, and I look forward to giving customers who use this location an upgraded station that they deserve while hardening our infrastructure for decades to come.”

The renovations mark the first major upgrade to the 80-year-old station in about three decades, and will address many of its issues. The problems include small craters in the platform floors, a dilapidated waiting room, dingy wooden boards that support concrete overhangs above escalators and staircases, and chipped paint on walls. Additionally, rain often pours through the light fixtures in the platform overhangs.

The project announcement came after controversy erupted between LIRR and local elected officials. In March 2017, representatives of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — which oversees the LIRR — told then Mayor William Hendrick that the Lynbrook station would receive a $10 million overhaul, which was to be funded under the Capital Program. Those plans changed, however, when Beach, who took office last October after Hendrick died, met with six LIRR representatives at Lynbrook Village Hall on Feb. 22.

At that meeting, railroad officials spoke of a scaled-down rehabilitation project instead of a complete overhaul. They also said the project would be funded by a grant secured by former State Sen. Dean Skelos, and not by the LIRR.

LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan told the Herald in April that the plans were altered because Eng was reviewing all pending projects after taking over for former President Patrick Nowakowski, who resigned in the wake of a scathing report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on the railroad’s 2017 on-time performance.

After the February meeting, Beach, State Assemblyman Brian Curran and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky voiced their displeasure to the MTA, lambasting the agency for ignoring what they said were much-needed repairs to the Lynbrook station. The officials noted that many other surrounding stations had received upgrades, including Wantagh, which underwent a two-year, $24 million renovation.

Eng met with Beach, Curran and Kaminsky several times over the past few months to discuss the issue and negotiate a plan to upgrade the station. On Sept. 5, Eng and Hector Garcia, the LIRR’s senior director for external affairs, presented the $17.9 million project to them at Village Hall, and an agreement was reached.

Curran, of Lynbrook, said the “community has waited a long time for a safe, clean and updated facility,” adding that while he was pleased that the MTA committed to upgrading the station, he would continue to push for funding for the second phase of the project in 2020.

Kaminsky said that the upgrades would help modernize the station. “Hardworking Lynbrook commuters deserve a 21st century station that is both safe and modern,” he said. “All Long Island Rail Road riders deserve a dignified and sane commute, and having a first-class station is part of that.”

Commuters have pushed for an upgrade for many years, and several voiced what they would like to see improved. “I’d love to not have to use my umbrella when standing under the structures and lights,” Andrew Machado said.

Sean DeSilva said the LIRR should focus on fixing the crumbling concrete, while Maureen Mullaney also had ideas. “Fix all the leaks,” she said. “Install better lighting and more seats on the platform.”