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LIRR riders face Penn Station detour next week

The downtown A C E entrance on the

The downtown A C E entrance on the south west corner of 33rd Street as seen from the steps of the post office on Feb. 26, 2014. The subway entrance, which serves as an entrance and exit to the LIRR terminal at Penn Station, will soon be closed for construction on the Moynihan Station project. Credit: Charles Eckert

More riders wedged into one less Penn Station exit will make Monday's LIRR commute to the Manhattan transportation hub even more of a challenge than usual because of continuing work on the Moynihan Station project.

The transformation of the historic Farley Post Office into an Amtrak station will force the shutdown of a staircase exit that usually dumps passengers out onto the Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street intersection. That will mean a detour for commuters arriving on tracks 13 through 19 at Penn Station from points east on the Long Island Rail Road.

Instead, commuters emptying on to those tracks will have to follow detour signs to a walkway leading them to an open subway staircase exit at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street -- already packed with riders from other trains.

LIRR officials could not provide information about the staircase shutdown Wednesday other than to confirm it's scheduled to begin Monday.

It will mean a longer commute for Long Islanders like Donna Lamendola, 40, of Huntington.

"Yes, this means another block, another minute," Lamendola said. "This is going to make a big difference. It's just going to add extra time to get to work."

A white 8-by-10 laminated paper sign taped to the shuttered staircase wall Wednesday alerted Lamendola and other commuters of the coming detours.

Lamendola, who commutes daily to Manhattan on the LIRR, said other than the sign, she has not heard or seen anything about the temporary closure.

"There has been no advisories on this and I check all the time," Lamendola said. "I did not even get an alert," she said.

Construction crews are in the first phase of the Moynihan Station project, which includes the expansion of the West End Concourse at the new station that will give Amtrak station passengers access to Penn Station.

Entrances into the new Amtrak station are being built on the corners of Eighth Avenue and 31st and 33rd streets along with new nearby subway entrances for the A, C and E subway trains.

Bill Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, which represents commuters' interests, said he did not know how long the staircase will be closed.

"We have been told that the project will be set up so that the Western Concourse will be open through the process and that there will be some minor changes for LIRR riders," Henderson said.

Closing down the staircase will be "a major inconvenience," said Warren Ross, 58, of Northport. "This is another five-minute walk. I'll have to go down the ramp and up the stairs on the other side across the street. It's not very convenient."

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