By Naeisha Rose
The Long Island Rail Road has completed work to lengthen station platforms in both Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, according to Murray Berger, the executive chairman of the Kew Gardens Civic Association.
The Forest Hills and Kew Gardens platforms were the 51st and 56th busiest of the LIRR’s 124 stations, according to Berger, serving 1,967 and 1,778 passengers, respectively, on average every weekday.
“I take [the rail road] to various events in the city and I got to tell you that the lengthening of those platforms are long overdue and I’m really glad that it was done,” said Alfred Brand, a member of Kew Gardens Civic Association.
The longer platforms at both stations will allow for six cars of each train instead of four, according to Berger.
“Coming back to Kew Gardens back to Penn Station — it is always a mad dash in trying to figure out where the first four cars are or either that or you are getting in and making a mad dash to the first four cars,” added Brand. “Having more cars will speed things up and its is long overdue.”
The work on the platforms was done in seven weeks and has made each 50 percent longer. LIRR trains can be up to 12 car longs and with the 200 feet westward expansion to both the north and south side of the tracks in Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, the new space will be helpful for customers from each neighborhood.
“At Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, we hope our trains will be less congested, faster, and more pleasant,” said LIRR President Philip Eng. “With more doors to board from, we anticipate more efficient train operations at both stations. We’re committed to improving conditions for all our customers, and this is a win not only for Queens, but for customers who ride from Nassau and Suffolk into Penn Station, who we hope will experience fewer delays through this area.”
Work began July 23 and was completed Sept. 12, according to LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan. An exact cost for the extension of the platforms located between Austin Street and Lefferts Boulevard in Kew Gardens and 71st Avenue and Austin St. in Forest Hills was not announced.
“I hope that this project demonstrates the new sense of urgency that the LIRR is bringing to bear on projects that can improve our customers’ commutes,” Eng said. “This change will have real benefits for our riders, and we accomplished it in less than two months by identifying a pinch-point where we incur delays and quickly marshaling our dedicated and capable workforce to make a fix.”
State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he was pleased by the development.
“The completion of this project proves that we can make meaningful investments in our transit infrastructure to improve customer service, and I look forward to continuing to push for similar enhancements at stations across my district,” Comrie said.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose