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MTA closing in on Main Street property for LIRR station upgrade

By Alex Robinson

The MTA is close to acquiring the land it needs to install elevators at the Flushing LIRR station, elected officials announced last week.

The project, which will renovate the long-neglected station so that it is wheelchair-accessible, has slowly started to come to fruition after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority employed eminent domain to obtain a property at 40-36 Main St., owned by Ou Jiang City Supermarket.

The MTA approved the use of eminent domain — the process by which the city seizes private property for public works projects — in February. In a recent letter to elected officials, LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said the MTA expects to acquire the property in January and that the existing tenant will move out by July.

The MTA has already acquired a small food stall that was partially under the LIRR overpass on Main Street that was needed for the project.

LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said eminent domain can sometimes be a long legal process.

“Sometimes eminent domain is simple and sometimes it’s not,” he said of the status of the city’s potential acquisition.

The MTA first announced the project in 2012, saying it would cost $8.5 million, but have since revised the cost to $16.5 million, Arena said.

Nowakowski also said 50 percent of the design submission for the project is expected to be completed in December and the final design will be finished in February. Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2015.

“Flushing is long overdue for the promised renovations to the LIRR Main Street station, including the installation of elevators to finally make the station handicap-accessible,” state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-
Flushing) said. “With our growing population and the influx of new businesses to the area, these improvements are more important than ever for downtown Flushing.”

In addition to elevators, the project will include new staircases, platform railings, better lighting and improved safety measures. The Flushing-Main Street station currently is only accessible by stairs that run up from Main Street and a steep metallic staircase that juts off 40th Road.

Community organizations have long complained about the small mountains of garbage that often pile up at the entrance of the 40th Road steps that lead up to the station.

The station sits close to Municipal Lot 3, a proposed site for a new affordable housing complex in Flushing.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobi‌nson@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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