The Long Island Rail Road plans to install a temporary extension to an existing pedestrian bridge, which was closed for safety reasons, on the Haven Avenue side of the Port Washington station. The installation, to be conducted this summer, will restore platform access for customers, authorities said.
The upcoming project is what officials describe as a “solution proposed by the LIRR and agreed to by Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth,” according to an LIRR news release.
It also comes at a time when officials are looking at long-term planning for the opening of East Side Access that is expected to give Port Washington commuters a choice of direct trains to Grand Central Terminal joining service to Penn Station.
Restoration to the Haven Avenue access became necessary after the emergency closing of the existing pedestrian bridge in April. Officials closed the pedestrian bridge when elements of the concrete structure were deemed unsuitable for regular use and could not be repaired.
“We understand the significant inconvenience that the loss of the Haven Avenue overpass is causing our customers,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski, in a statement.
“I am pleased that we’ve been able to find a temporary solution that we will be able to put in place within a matter of months to better serve customers and the Port Washington community,” he added.
Nowakowskito said the input and cooperation of Bosworth, Sen. Jack Martins, Assemb. Michelle Schimel and Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio were instrumental in reaching the agreement.
“I am pleased that LIRR officials listened to the community’s concerns and responded with this temporary solution,” Bosworth said. “It’s important that we address the safety and quality of life of our Port Washington commuters and this proposal addresses both.”
DeGiorgio thanked Nowakowksi and his staff “for their quick and practical response,” and also thanked Bosworth, Martins and Schimel, calling the endeavor a “true team effort for the benefit of our town.”
The temporary structure will be built with modular, pre-fabricated materials and is expected to be fully installed and open in September.
For the long-term remedy, the LIRR said it is continuing to talk to the town and community leaders about a plan that would extend two tracks at the Port Washington station and replace the pedestrian bridges as part of a larger project that would improve LIRR service for Port Washington while updating the station and getting it ready for the opening of East Side Access.Once East Side Access is complete, the LIRR plans to give Port Washington commuters a choice of services, with direct trains to Grand Central Terminal joining continuing direct service to Penn Station. But, in order to do so efficiently, the LIRR needs to be able to store additional trains at Port Washington station so they are in the proper location for the beginning of the morning rush hour, according to a news release. The LIRR is currently working with town officials on the long-term plan.