The Huntington Long Island Rail Road station’s south parking garage elevator will be taken out of service Tuesday so it can be replaced to increase reliability, safety and comfort, town officials said.
The elevator will be out of service for about four months, officials said, but the possible inconvenience for and concerns of commuters with mobility impairments were incorporated into the plans.
“The elevator has been there for about 30 years and it’s time to be replaced,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said. “There have been issues with it that requires replacement, so it has to be totally taken out and a new one put in.”
The total project cost is $420,700. About 55 percent of it is funded by the town, with the remainder paid by federal and state grants, officials said.
The closure comes as the LIRR enters its “summer of hell,” with trains canceled or rerouted during Penn Station infrastructure repair. Parking areas at the Huntington station are owned and managed by the town.
Town officials in the spring alerted riders to the pending elevator closure and asked them to participate in an online survey about it.
“The theory behind this was that we wanted to reach the people most affected by the closure, to ask them why they used the elevator, how much of a hardship taking the elevator out of service would cause, and what their likely response would be,” Carter said. “If a person said it would not cause a hardship, the survey ended there. If the person said he or she was handicapped and not having the elevator would create a hardship, other questions were asked.”
About 25 people took the survey and, based on those responses, town officials added new handicapped parking spaces in anticipation of the elevator project. On the north side, the additional spaces are on the ground level in the parking garage. On the south side, they were added on Level 2 of the garage. Both locations will provide easy access to the ramps, town officials said.
A Public Safety Department vehicle will be available at the station during peak hours — 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m. — to transport people with disabilities from one side of the tracks to the other. To arrange a ride during those or other times, riders can call the department at 631-351-3234.
Carter said the elevator’s contractors, Westbury-based Benchmark Construction Group and Ozone Park-based Unitec Elevator Company, will work as quickly possible.
“The elevator has really been a challenge the last few years,” Georgianna White, a 35-year Huntington resident who took the survey and uses the elevator when she rides the train, said at a recent meeting. “It’s been breakdowns and deplorable conditions and really just filth.”
She suggested that town officials do a better job on signage during the closure.
“Get a big sign, a bold sign. Put signs in English and Spanish. Put them in the station,” she said.
Town recommendations for disabled commuters during the elevator replacement:
- If possible, riders should arrange trips so eastbound and westbound trains depart and arrive on the same track. The platform information is in the full Port Jefferson line LIRR schedule.
- Consider alternate stations, particularly the Northport station, where one track means no concerns about switching sides.
- Call Public Safety from the train to make them aware of a need for a ride at the Huntington station.
- For more information on the project, call the Department of Transportation and Traffic Safety at 631-351-3053.