Several small craters line the platform floors at the Lynbrook Long Island Rail Road station. Wooden boards support concrete overhangs above escalators and staircases. Paint is chipped on the station’s walls, and the elevators often malfunction.
These are among the many problems that Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said they would address last March, when they announced nearly $10 million in funds to overhaul the 80-year-old station.
More than a year later, however, commuters are still awaiting the station’s first major upgrade in about three decades, as local elected leaders begin to question whether such renovations will happen anytime soon.
“The Lynbrook station is a disgrace,” said Krista Carlo Clancy, who has used the station daily to commute to and from Penn Station in Manhattan for more than 20 years. “These are outdated, dangerous conditions. . . . Something needs to be done immediately.”
Something was supposed to be done.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told the Herald just over a year ago that an agreement was brokered with then Mayor William Hendrick to address the numerous issues at the station. Repairs were to be funded by the MTA’s capital program, and slated to be completed at several stations, in addition to Lynbrook, in 2019.
“Customers at Lynbrook will benefit from a new, translucent canopy, brighter LED lighting, security cameras and new platform waiting rooms and signage, among other improvements,” Donovan said at the time.
Those plans changed, however, when Mayor Alan Beach, who took office last October after Hendrick died, met with six MTA representatives at Lynbrook Village Hall on Feb. 22. At that meeting, railroad representatives 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.
In a statement to the Herald, Sarah Armaghan, an LIRR spokeswoman, said that all planned projects are now under review by the new LIRR president, Phillip Eng, “with a focus on efficiency and the customer experience.”
Eng, 56, is a former chief operating officer of the MTA and the acting president of New York City Transit. He took over as LIRR president earlier this month, after Patrick Nowakowski resigned in the wake of a scathing report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli about the railroad’s 2017 on-time performance.
Joseph Woodward, who commutes from Lynbrook to Manhattan, lambasted the station’s appearance. “The structural concrete is falling down,” he said. “Lime from the concrete drips all over your car when you park under the trestle.”
Francesco Artusa said the escalators rarely work, and the seating area is dilapidated. “It’s very uninviting and very dated,” he said. “I’ve seen nicer subway and train stations in low-income neighborhoods.”
Deirdre Vesce Roddin said that rainwater pours through the light fixtures in the platform overhangs. “The shelter smells so bad that I’d rather stand in the cold,” she said. “The stairs are crumbling and a safety hazard.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Brian Curran worked with Hendrick in negotiating the original agreement with the MTA to overhaul the station, and they attended the February meeting with Beach.
“The Lynbrook LIRR overhaul is long overdue, and I will continue to fight to make this station a priority,” Kaminsky said. “The MTA promised this money.”
Curran, of Lynbrook, described the meeting as “disappointing,” and wrote a letter to the MTA about it on April 6. “The rehabilitation plan put forth by the LIRR at the Feb. 22 meeting was significantly less in scope and cost for the full renovation project that Lynbrook has been promised for years,” he wrote.
In a phone interview, Curran said he had yet to hear back from the MTA, and noted that other stations have been given priority over Lynbrook. The Wantagh station recently underwent a two-year, $24 million renovation. Curran said he is waiting for Lynbrook to receive the same treatment.
“For years, they’ve been telling us they would get it done and give us a new station,” he said. “Now they’re coming back to us with a rehab. It’s outrageous.”