Northport LIRR station commuters accustomed to shelter in the station's 91-year-old waiting room will have to alter their routine this summer because the building has been temporarily closed for renovations.
The Long Island Rail Road station building’s exterior facade, interior waiting room and plaza area will be improved as part of the MTA's station enhancement project. Upgrades include rehabilitated bathrooms, new bike racks, energy-efficient lighting, security cameras and better signage. The station will also have Wi-Fi, USB charging stations, new artwork and LCD display screens, officials say.
“Renovations like those underway at Northport will help accomplish our goal to bring our railroad both to the state of good repair and up to the standards our customers expect and deserve," said LIRR president Phillip Eng in a written statement.
Officials estimate that the station, located in East Northport, serves about 2,335 riders on the Port Jefferson line per weekday. While the station undergoes renovations, riders can access a temporary waiting room located next to the station’s outdoor ticket machines. The air-conditioned room contains two benches and a couple of electrical outlets.
Rocco Nigro, 70, who regularly commutes from Northport, said that the temporary waiting room was small and that there were few places to wait if it rained.
"It'll be late, just like the trains," he said of the planned completion deadline of the fall.
Northport station is one of six LIRR stations that will be renovated as part of a $13 million project funded by the MTA. The LIRR stations at Great Neck, Valley Stream, Baldwin, Bayside and Ronkonkoma will also be renovated.
“We’re tackling everything across the system,” Sarah Armaghan, LIRR spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview. “[We’re] making sure we can provide a comfortable atmosphere for our customers.”
Some Northport commuters said that the money spent on the renovations could be used for more important things. John Dillworth, 59, who has been commuting from Northport for 20 years, said there were too few cars on the Port Jefferson line, which uses diesel-fueled engines, making commutes crowded and seats scarce.
“The renovation is nice, but boy, I would’ve certainly much rather had more rolling stock,” Dillworth said.
William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, explained that the MTA assessed the different needs across the railroad system and prioritized funding depending on this assessment.
"There's a lot of things that need to be kept up," he said. "If you don't keep doing some work on them, they may fall apart more quickly."
Other riders said the construction had not affected their daily commute.
"It's pretty much the same," said Daniel Putz, who commutes regularly from Northport. "It's a pretty good commute."
The station building was closed on June 18 and is scheduled to reopen in November.