Officials laud completion of $17.9M project to improve Lynbrook's Long Island Rail Road station

Mike Smollins for LI Herald

Originally published in Long Island Herald

Standing at a lectern on the clean, newly renovated Lynbrook Long Island Rail Road station platform on Wednesday surrounded by elected officials, engineers and LIRR officials, Mayor Alan Beach recalled the arduous process it took to complete repairs that were needed there for decades.

“This station was in such terrible, terrible shape and it has been a long battle for us,” Beach said. “ . . . We had a couple of hiccups along the way and adjustments that we made, and we came to have things done that we never even expected. It makes us very proud in Lynbrook to have this done.”

Beach spoke as he ushered in the completion of a $17.9 million overhaul to the station, which residents, elected officials and commuters have been waiting decades for. An LIRR station that was once home to small craters in the platform floors, chipped paint on walls, a dilapidated waiting room and dingy wooden boards that supported concrete overhangs above escalators and staircases  underwent several renovations. Among them were an upgraded drainage system, replacement of canopies, two new glass waiting rooms, new signage, LED lighting and closed-circuit cameras. Additional work is also planned on the street level, which will include installation of new asphalt and concrete sidewalks, curbs and improvements to the station house, and is slated to be completed by the end of 2021.

LIRR President Phillip Eng said he was grateful to elected officials, engineers, workers and everyone involved in giving the more than 80-year-old station its first renovation in more than three decades, calling it a “shining example of collaboration.”

“These renovations, which are not only esthetically pleasing, provide a much-needed hardening of the infrastructure here, ensuring that they can be enjoyed for years to come,” he said. “It’s about improving the quality of life in the heart of this community and the customer experience.”

Beach and Eng were joined at the event by the Lynbrook board of trustees, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, LIRR officials and those who worked on the project.

The road to the improvements wasn’t an easy one. The LIRR announced a planned $10 million overhaul of the station back in April 2016, but after Eng took over as president in April 2018, he paused all planned projects in order to give them a thorough review. After several meetings with Beach, Kaminsky and other elected officials, he announced the updated plan in September 2018.

The upgrades were funded under the LIRR’s Capital Program, which is modernizing several stations. Work began in September 2019, and the project was completed by its target date despite challenges brought on by the coronavirus.

Project Director Poonam Punj and Senior Project Manager Gary Holzapfel praised workers for staying on target, and noted that the contractors for the project were easy to deal with. The Lynbrook-based Zion Contracting completed the work on Platform A, while JMJ Electric was charged with Platform B. Additionally, Todd Colabella from LiRo Engineers took the helm as the construction manager.

“During these difficult months of Covid, it’s a good achievement,” Punj said. “It’s given us some time to put together a very nice project so that when people come back to work, I think they’ll enjoy it.”

Holzapfel said he was proud of the achievement, especially after the coronavirus altered the normal project protocols, and added that he was pleased that there were no positive Covid-19 tests among workers throughout construction.

“Back in March when the virus hit, there were a lot of unknowns,” he recalled. “They put in all new protocols as far as social distancing and mask requirements and sanitizing stations, and we adhered to everything.”

Several elected officials spoke at the event before cutting a ribbon to officially usher in the new station. Kaminsky called it a rare occasion where elected officials from different parties worked together to take on the cause, and noted there is still more work to do at the street level. He added that it was nice to see the station look clean and fresh.

“When you used to stand up on this platform, it was dark,” Kaminsky said. “There would be cracks in the sidewalk, often filled with ice in the winter. You couldn’t get a signal. It was a tough place to be, and I’m really proud of these reforms that were made.”

Griffin thanked everyone who had a hand in the project, and said she would continue to seek future improvements  where needed.

“I will continue to work diligently to ensure that commuters experience a reliable, safe and comfortable commute,” she said, “and this new Lynbrook station is just a great start to that.”