The Long Island Rail Road has pledged to overhaul its crumbling Lynbrook station with $17.9 million in repairs next year and plans for more extensive improvements in the future.
The project, set to begin next spring, follows years of complaints by commuters and elected officials about the condition of the 80-year-old station, where wood beams help hold up deteriorating station platforms, divots in floors cause puddles and ice to form, and rainwater leaks through rotting roofs.
“Yesterday it was raining underneath the canopy,” LIRR commuter Janet Rivera, 36, said Tuesday as she waited for her Brooklyn-bound train at the Lynbrook station. “I felt like I needed my umbrella just to stand here.”
The railroad already had plans for more modest repairs at the station totaling $10 million. But, responding to calls from Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook), new railroad president Phillip Eng expanded the effort, which will now include repairing the two station platforms and rehabilitating their support structures, building two new glass platform waiting rooms, replacing two platform canopies, putting in new LED lighting and signage, improving drainage and installing cameras and Wi-Fi capabilities.
The work for the station, which is used by about 5,000 customers daily, is expected to be finished by 2020.
"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,” Eng said in a statement.
Curran, who has been pushing for a renovation of the station since his days as Lynbrook mayor more than a decade ago, called the plan “a good start,” but noted that many other stations along the Babylon line have already undergone more extensive renovations than what’s planned for Lynbrook.
“At a certain point, you’ve got to say, ‘Why is Lynbrook being penalized by the Long Island Rail Road?' ” Curran said.
The improvements funded in the $17.9 million plan still won’t address many of commuters’ biggest concerns, including the condition of the street-level station office building and dilapidated train trestle, which routinely rains chunks of concrete down onto parked cars.
The LIRR this week did announce plans for an as-of-yet unfunded second phase of improvements that will include several street level improvements at the elevated station, including renovating the station building, repairing sidewalks and concrete curbs, installing new bike racks, and painting a bridge.
Lynbrook is among 31 LIRR stations in line for improvements as part of a major infrastructure expansion and improvement initiative by the railroad that includes 100 separate projects totaling about $6 billion.
Kaminsky, a frequent critic of what he’s called the “undignified commute” endured by LIRR customers in recent years, said the upgrades will help transform Lynbrook into a 21st century train station.
“People are frustrated. They say to me, very succinctly, ‘This is what I pay upwards of $300 a month for? This is disgusting,’” Kaminsky said. “I think focusing on stations is the right thing to do. But we’ve got a long way to go before people feel that they’re getting their money’s worth.”