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Kaminsky seeks funds for LIRR upgrades

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State Sen. Todd Kaminsky is working with Long Island Rail Road officials to secure funding for major upgrades and improvements at the Long Beach LIRR train station, saying that the facility is in desperate need of repair.

In September, Kaminsky said he met with LIRR President Phillip Eng to discuss improvements that can be made to the station. LIRR officials said that the station has not seen a major renovation since 1999, and Kaminsky said that an overhaul is long overdue.

“For many years, nothing has been done,” Kaminsky said. “The Long Beach commuters deserve a better station.”

Kaminsky had previously helped secure funds for overhauls at the Valley Stream, Lynbrook and Baldwin LIRR stations, along with funds for structural upgrades to the Rockville Centre station.

In September, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved an ambitious $51.5 billion dollar capital plan, which would begin in 2020 and aims to rebuild New York’s transportation system. The five-year plan allocated $5.7 billion for LIRR for improvements — like track repairs, platform upgrades and the addition of a third track — and Kaminsky said he is fighting for a portion of the LIRR funding for a more modern train station in Long Beach.

In last year’s LIRR Ridership Report, officials stated that more than 4.8 million people rode on the Long Beach line. City Council Vice President John Bendo is among those residents who commute to work daily using the LIRR, and said that much of the station is in need of repair.

Bendo cited infrastructure and aesthetic problems such as a leaky roof, rusty beams, dim lighting, flooding in the parking garage and a lack of adequate bike racks. He added that the station does not represent the city in a positive way.

“When tourists arrive in town, the station does not convey an inviting beach-like atmosphere,” Bendo said.

Kaminsky echoed those sentiments, and added that he wanted to prioritize the repair of cracked concrete in the facility and the expansion of stairways to address overcrowding. Additionally, he said, he wants LED lighting, new digital signs to direct commuters, more bike racks and possibly the addition of Wi-Fi to the station.

Though Kaminsky said it was too early to determine how much funding would be allocated for improvements, he said he is confident that there is money in the LIRR’s budget to make the necessary upgrades.

Meredith Daniels, a spokeswoman for the LIRR, said the capital program does allocate some funding for repairs at the station.

“There is funding in the proposed capital program allowing for Long Beach station improvements, and we will continue to work with Senator Kaminsky and the City of Long Beach to identify items that need to be addressed,” Daniels said in a statement. “The LIRR continues to respond to areas of need, such as replacing three substations damaged by Superstorm Sandy; strengthening the resiliency of the Wreck Lead Bridge, which will be completed next year; and other work to fortify the branch.”

Councilwoman-elect Karen McInnis, a former LIRR commuter for more than 12 years, expressed support for the overhaul.

“Long Beach is a destination and our train station should reflect that,” McInnis said. “Right now it’s more like a depot, it’s not inviting, it’s not welcoming and it’s not clean.”