By Philip Newman
The Murray Hill station on the Long Island Rail Road has been singled out once again as potentially hazardous and in poor condition in an audit of the MTA’s two commuter railroads by city Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr.
He said it was “extremely troubling” to discover that the same unsafe conditions identified in last year’s audit remained at the station between the Broadway and Flushing stops after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was paid nearly $67 million last year for station maintenance.
“It is also disturbing to find the difference in maintenance standards between stations in the city and stations in Westchester County,” Thompson said. “New York City residents are entitled to the same level of service Metro-North provides to Westchester County residents.”
Thompson pointed out that the auditors’ inspections of the 26 Long Island Rail Road stations in the city revealed that only one station, “Murray Hill, had unsafe conditions and was in overall poor condition.”
Even though last year’s audit pointed out three unsafe LIRR stations in Queens, Murray Hill remained on this year’s list.
Thompson said inspectors at the Murray Hill station found, “cracked and crumbling concrete on platforms, chipped staircases, loose platform edges, rusted pipes and a cracked retaining wall.”
But a project to upgrade the station is in the offing.
“A multimillion-dollar rehabilitation of the Murray Hill station of the Long Island Rail Road is now scheduled for 2004,” said Sam Zambuto, a spokesman for the LIRR.
City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) recently suggested a plan to improve the LIRR station in downtown Flushing.
Several times over the past few years, the Murray Hill station has been cited by both state and city comptrollers for deteriorated conditions.
Former City Comptroller Alan Hevesi included Murray Hill along with the Broadway and Rosedale stations in a 2000 list of what he termed potentially dangerous and poorly maintained stations.
In 2002, Thompson named both Murray Hill and Broadway among stations in great need of repair. In October 2002, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and LIRR officials presided at a ceremony opening a renovated Broadway station. The repairs were paid for through a $1.7 million grant secured by Padavan.
Thompson said three stations of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad in the Bronx, including Wakefield, Tremont and Fordham, were also in deteriorated condition. The report said Wakefield, Tremont and Fordham stations were also on last year's report of deteriorated stations.
“This year’s audit shows a small but not a significant improvement over last year’s findings,” Thompson said. “In order to provide passengers with safe and effective service, the MTA must ensure that the railroads immediately correct all of the problems identified by my auditors.”
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.