By Madina Toure
The long-anticipated Flushing LIRR station renovation project will start in spring 2016, according to the MTA.
The $16.5 million project for the Flushing-Main Street station on Main Street and 41st Avenue will consist of the installation of an elevator for each platform to make the station wheelchair-accessible, new staircases, platform railings, better lighting and other safety measures.
At Community Board 7’s district service cabinet meeting at the Queens Botanical Gardens Nov. 20, Hector Garcia, government relations specialist for the MTA LIRR, said the agency is hoping to award a contract in January and that construction will likely start around March 2016.
In the meantime, the MTA is working on a smaller project involving the replacement of the handrails on the platform, which will start in late December or January, Garcia said.
The station currently has one entrance off Main Street for the eastbound side and another off 40th Road for the westbound side.
“A lot of people don’t know it’s there,” Garcia said about the 40th Road entrance. “It’s hard to find. It’s very congested to get to it.”
The agency used eminent domain to obtain a property at 40-36 Main St. owned by Ou Jiang Supermarket, where the elevator for New York-bound passengers would be built.
Garcia said the supermarket should be leaving by the end of December.
He said the agency plans to address the dumping and graffiti that take place in the “dark, dingy” alleyway where the entrance is located.
“We’re going to have two entrances up on the westbound platform and in that alleyway, we’re going to beautify it and we’re hoping to have some smaller vendors in there,” he said. “It’ll have a presence, hopefully (we’ll) keep it clean and inviting. We’re going to be adding lighting up there and other improvements.”
Board members and other community leaders expressed concerns about the dumping of garbage near the station, whether the new elevators will be reliable, beautification and people slipping on the staircase during rainy and snowy weather.
Dian Yu, executive director of the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District, spoke of illegal vendors in the area.
“We’ve gotten complaints about a pile-up of garbage,” Yu said.
The agency will be putting in cameras around the area, Garcia said.
The MTA is also planning to rehabilitate the LIRR’s bridge over Main Street.
The railroad intends to waterproof the bridge and paint it under the 2015-2019 capital program.
“There is some discussions, not under this project but under future projects, to rehabilitate, renovate and repaint that bridge as well,” Poonam Punj, the MTA LIRR’s senior project manager, said. “So that should be coming up soon, not as part of our work, but we will clean up some of it while we’re there.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour