The LIRR says the $121 million renovation at its busiest Long Island station is on schedule in Hicksville despite concerns expressed by riders on social media about the pace and quality of the work.
More than a year after major construction began on the project, progress is apparent at the Long Island Rail Road station, which now features a new 12-car concrete platform, signs, lighting, audio messaging systems, platform canopy and seven new staircases.
But several commuters have taken to Twitter to raise concerns about some of the recent changes, including the fact that the new concrete platform is already sporting multiple cracks that extend several feet. Others have pointed out that the new platform is noticeably higher than the previous one — forcing riders to step down when boarding a train or step up when getting off one.
“Just noticed what an amazing job the @LIRR workers did building the new Hicksville platform. Looks like it’s only 8” too high,” LIRR rider Joe Catalano tweeted earlier this month. “I wonder how much it will cost us to fix this.”
Some commuters have also voiced frustration with the speed of the work, especially as they head into the winter months without roofs or waiting room on the platforms to shield them from the elements.
“There needs to be a waiting room upstairs,” Dudrey Jean Pierre, 24, of Jamaica, said recently after getting off at the station, which he uses when traveling to and from classes at the Nassau Vocational Education and Extension Board’s Practical Nursing Program in Hicksville. “Sometimes it gets kind of annoying as it gets into this kind of cold weather and the wind blows higher.”
Despite the complaints, LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan said the renovation project remains “on schedule and proceeding as planned.”
She said crews worked around the clock during the summer, allowing for the September reopening of Platform A, which had been closed three months. And work continues during off-peak hours throughout the winter months, Armaghan said, to complete the enclosed platform waiting rooms — the first of which will open early next year, to finish work on new escalators and elevators, and to complete the reconstruction of Platform B, which is remaining open as the work is carried out.
“Hicksville is the busiest station on Long Island so it’s important that we keep the station operating during construction — which means some inconvenience to our customers as they navigate our work as it happens, but certainly less inconvenience than if we closed the station,” Armaghan said.
Responding to some of the complaints made about the work on social media, LIRR officials said the cracks that have formed on the newly reconstructed Platform A pose no safety threats and have been repaired with a material that heightens their visibility. They also said that the new platform was built to proper design elevations, and that as part of the project, the tracks will be resurfaced — reducing the vertical gap between train floors and platform.
Used by 6,000 customers every weekday morning, the 56-year-old Hicksville railroad station is the busiest in Nassau or Suffolk counties. LIRR Commuter Council Chairman Mark Epstein said, while “it would be nice” to have the platform waiting rooms reopen, he has not heard many complaints from commuters about the state of the repairs.
“We’ll see when it’s done,” Epstein said. “I don’t want to prejudge.”
LIRR’s Hicksville Renovation
Cost: $121 million
Work begun: September 2016
Estimated completion date: Summer 2018
Weekday morning ridership: 6,000
Year opened: 1962 (older versions of the station date to early 1800s)
Planned improvements: New platforms with glass-enclosed, heated waiting rooms; an enhanced interior waiting room; improved lighting; a translucent canopy roof; improved stairways, escalators, plaza elevators; a video security system, audio and digital communications systems; better signage; and Wi-Fi and USB charging stations throughout the station.