WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — 6,000 commuters a day use the Wantagh Long Island Rail Road station. For two years, it’s been undergoing renovations and now, many riders say they’re fed up with the wait.
They say they find the conditions dangerous, or even illegal.
Disabled advocate Gina Barbara lives in town but has been unable to use the LIRR station.
“I’d like to be on that train but there’s no way to get up there,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
It’s in the midst of a whopping $24 million renovation, much needed, since it was first opened fifty years ago. Commuters say the work is slow and shoddy, and no one’s gotten around to making ample handicapped accessible curb cuts.
There’s an elevator, but it works intermittently.
“I’m in a power wheelchair and I don’t know how I would get out of the elevator if I was stuck inside,” Barbara said.
It’s just what happened to Ken Markowitz.
“We were stuck for 45 minutes,” he said. “Finally the fire department came and they were helpful.”
Markowitz says firefighters put a ladder through the top of the escape hatch and took people out one by one.
Installing an elevator, building a platform and a warm waiting room are all welcomed changes. But why has it taken two years? The group Long Island FAILroad has taken to social media to post pictures of holes punched in concrete and patches covering spots.
“The wind was gusting pretty bad and the doors were swinging wide open,” LIRR commuter Henry Gallegos said. “The next day we came here during the storm and the doors were gone.”
LIRR replaced the temporary doors and sent CBS2 a photo showing the arming platform melting snow last week. They say the contractor will pay to fix the grid pipe system and coat the patchwork cracks with a sealant.
Half the tracks are close during the work.
“It’s frustrating because you spend your whole morning or day around trying to get on the platform,” commuter Jessica Carolo said.
“This is a brand new structure,” Barbara said. “There’s no excuse for this.”
The LIRR has asked for patience, saying “the Wantagh LIRR station is going to look spectacular once the project is complete.” The exact date for that completion was not known.
Meanwhile, the LIRR says it’s heard from commuters who say the renovations are great and that Wantagh is better than other neighboring stations.