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Port Washington residents want LIRR pedestrian bridge reopened

A closed pedestrian bridge at the Port Washington

A closed pedestrian bridge at the Port Washington LIRR station, Thursday, July 14, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Port Washington residents and local lawmakers are lobbying the LIRR to reopen part of a pedestrian overpass closed last month.

The Long Island Rail Road on June 29 closed a portion of the overpass on South Bayles Avenue. In 2014, the MTA built an entrance to the bridge from the opposite end of the lot at Haven Avenue after closing another pedestrian bridge in the lot that was structurally unsound. That bridge could be reached by South Bayles and Haven avenues.

Port Washington commuters say they are concerned that the bridge can now only be reached from one street.

“It’s a safety issue. All the commuters are being directed to one access, ingress and egress point at front of the train station,” said North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio. “We need that second way of getting off the platform.”

De Giorgio said she is advocating the LIRR remove the unsafe part of the bridge and replace it with a prefabricated modular structure as a temporary solution.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Salvatore Arena said agency officials closed the section of the bridge after a scheduled inspection and “out of an abundance of caution.”

“It had deteriorated to a point where they felt it was unsafe to allow pedestrians to use it,” Arena said.

He said officials hope to add the stairway that can be accessed from South Bayles Avenue. The structure would be similar to the one built in 2014 on Haven Avenue.

“It’s going to be repaired or replaced as soon as we possibly can do it,” Arena said.

Mark Epstein, president of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council, wrote in a letter to LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski that his group is “distressed that the pedestrian overpass had been allowed to deteriorate to a point where an emergency closure in the middle of the workday was necessary.”

Epstein also wrote “it does not build riders’ confidence for these structures to be pronounced fit for use one day and unavailable for use due to an emergency closure on the next day.”

Arena noted the bridge was built in 1959. “We felt the bridge was not safe for pedestrian use, so we closed it immediately.”

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