The first phase of a $40 million project to renovate the Long Island Rail Road's aging Massapequa station and increase the number of trains serving morning commuters is nearly completed and expected to open to the public Monday, officials said.
On the west side of the station is a new elevator taking riders to a new platform and waiting area partially filled with laminated glass artwork for which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had set aside $175,000 in its budget.
"I think if they're going to drop 175 grand for something, art is not too bad because that provides jobs for artists," Jacky Bernhard, 20, of Massapequa, said Thursday as she headed to Lynbrook. "I also think that this is such a used train station that it's important for it to look good. So, something like artwork can really improve it in the end."
The elevator, however, won't be in service until mid- to late September, Meredith Daniels, an MTA spokeswoman, said.
Commuters unable to climb the staircase should continue using the Seaford station for a few more weeks, she said.
Starting Monday, construction will shift to the east side of the station where laborers will begin replacing the remainder of the platform, an escalator, canopies and a staircase. If all goes as planned, the rest of the station should reopen in the summer of 2015.
The big-ticket item is the pocket track, estimated to cost $20 million. Construction has begun but won't be completed until August 2016, Daniels said.
The pocket track, to be built between the existing tracks, will allow more trains to start out at the station, increasing the frequency of trains leaving from Massapequa, one of most heavily used stations on the Babylon line. Daniels, however, did not say how many trains will originate from the rebuilt station and the maximum number of trains it could handle.
She said they "would be factored into the schedules."
The Massapequa station was rebuilt as an elevated structure in 1953. Its existing elevator, installed 34 years ago, is the oldest in the LIRR system.
Westbound commuters, as during the first phase of construction, are asked during the second phase to board the first six cars of the train and eastbound riders are asked to board and exit from the last six cars.
The renovation, which began in spring 2013, left some commuters irritated due to a lack of parking and the longer walk to the platform. "At first I was really annoyed," Bernhard said, "but now I don't really care because I've gotten used to it."