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Slow Train Coming

After a long time in the making, Massapequa residents are finally getting the train station that they deserve.

As of August 21, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has kicked off the second phase of its extensive renovation of the Massapequa station. And while the ongoing construction is causing residents some degree of inconvenience, many are nonetheless focusing on the long-term goal of the project- essentially a brand-new station where a once cracked, dirty, and decrepit one once stood.

Currently, the west end of the train platform has been closed off from commuters while work crews toil away at the second phase of the station’s $40 million facelift; the LIRR is replacing the station platform, canopy, staircases, elevator and escalator.

In addition, the platform waiting room, lighting, public address system, and signage will all be replaced as well.

However, that’s not all; the LIRR is also installing a “pocket track” just east of the station to park additional trains for times of greater commuter demand; this, the LIRR said, promises to improve train service, frequency, and seat availability.

The second phase of the Massapequa station facelift is scheduled to last through early spring of 2014, after which a third and final phase will go into effect; the entire project is slated to take a total of two years to complete.

The Massapequa station was originally raised from street level in 1953.

Massapequa resident Mark Labell expressed a great deal of relief that the LIRR had, at long last, begun work to create a new Massapequa station for commuters.

“This has been a long time in coming...this station has been in poor condition for quite a long time, and I’m glad to see the rehab is starting,” he said. “I hope they do as good a job as they did in Wantagh...they fixed the Wantagh station a couple of years ago, and they did a beautiful job there. As for the Massapequa station, you can look at the structure and see that it’s almost falling apart...the peeling paint, the cracks in the cement, and so on.”

“I like that they’re building a pocket track right here so they can add more trains,” Labell added. “That should be a big help during rush hour.”

Karen McCauley said that she took exception to having to walk down to the eastern stairwell to access the train platform while construction currently has the western platform closed off, but she understood that such measures were for the greater good.

“In the morning at rush hour, having to park at one end and then hike twice as far is a big hassle,” she said. “But they’ve got to do what they have to do to get the work done, I guess, and I even like the little things they’ve done already, like adding a new enclosed area to the platform...I’m sure the new station will be great.”

Peter Kakouris of Massapequa felt that the renovation of the train station was an eventuality given the multitude of the cracks in the concrete structure, but he had other hopes for the end result of the project as well.

“I would like a functional waiting room...the waiting room we have now is essentially a bathroom for the homeless people who sleep there at night,” he said. “We need better security and a cleaner waiting area, along the lines of the one at the Seaford station. Also, we need a more functional platform roof to protect against the elements, because come February the sleet and slush just cuts right through you.”