Lindenhurst resident Skip Meinhold using the new elevator at the...

Lindenhurst resident Skip Meinhold using the new elevator at the LIRR Lindenhurst station. The station is one of four on the Babylon line being made ADA-accessible this year. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Long Island Rail Road is another step closer to being fully accessible for riders with disabilities, as a new elevator in Lindenhurst opened Friday.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials and disability rights advocates gathered in Lindenhurst to mark the completion of the LIRR's latest accessibility project — one of four on the railroad's Babylon Branch to be finished in 2024 as part of a $169 million upgrade effort.

Copiague and Amityville got new elevators in recent weeks, and Massapequa Park is set to get one by the end of the year. That would make 113 of the LIRR's 126 stations accessible, or about 90%.

“We need parents with strollers to be able to take their kids to the beach and to get to all kinds of places, people with mobility issues, whether they're in wheelchairs or just getting on in years, people who do not want to use the stairs,” MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said. “That's what these elevators are about — making sure everybody is able to take advantage of this incredible resource.”

The three recently completed accessibility projects were promised in a settlement of a lawsuit filed by disability advocates.

The LIRR has plans to make all its remaining stations accessible, but those designs suffered a setback when Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this month ordered an indefinite pause to the MTA's congestion pricing program, which would have generated new toll revenue that would have funded several transit infrastructure upgrades.

Without the funding, the MTA earlier this week announced plans to defer several planned capital projects, including accessibility upgrades at the LIRR's Hollis and Forest Hills stations.

“That doesn't mean they're canceled. It means we're hoping and expecting that there will be a new funding strategy … that will pay for those,” Lieber said.

LIRR officials said 1,300 riders use the Lindenhurst station each day. In addition to the elevator, the station got new accessible bathrooms, sidewalks and curb ramps, signage, stairway handrails, security cameras, lighting, and platform canopies.

Skip Meinhold, who lives in Lindenhurst and manages a railroad museum there, gets around with the assistance of a walker, and was able to ride up to the station platform by elevator for the first time Friday.

“It was nice and smooth,” said Meinhold, 78, a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War. “It's about time.”

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