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All Aboard: LIRR Revamping Hicksville Train Station

Westbury’s decrepit Ellison Avenue Bridge to be replaced

Over the next five years, Long Island Rail Road commuters from Hicksville, Westbury and Mineola will notice some significant changes at their hometown stations.

The MTA Long Island Rail Road announced on Monday, May 21, that $211.5 worth of capital improvements – dubbed the MTA Capital Plan – will result in major renovations at the Hicksville train station, a new bridge on Ellison Avenue in the Village of Westbury and drainage improvements in Mineola.

The plan comes at a time when civic groups in Hicksville are revitalizing the downtown area; the Westbury Performing Arts Center is slated to open in the fall and nearby Ellison Avenue links two major thoroughfares (Old Country Road and Jericho Turnpike); and the Village of Mineola is battling ongoing drainage issues at its own high-volume station.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said, “In the short term, construction means jobs, something that the MTA has provided continually over many years. Long term, these projects link to East Side Access, America’s biggest public works project and one that promises to shave commuting time and make Long Island more attractive for living and doing business.”

Hicksville Station Improvements ($106.6 million)

Of the $106.6 million devoted to the Hicksville train station, one of the LIRR’s busiest, $55.1 million will go toward what the MTA describes as a “facelift,” which includes new station platforms, waiting rooms, canopies, stairways, lighting, elevators, escalators and a digital audio communication system.

The LIRR set aside $37.7 million for an additional 3,000 feet of new track, along with power and signal work, which will enable the LIRR to add three morning and evening peak service trains between Hicksville and Grand Central Terminal once the East Side Access project is completed. The additional track will improve the railroad’s ability to reroute trains due to maintenance, construction or service disruptions, according to an MTA press release.

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams said, “These projects will improve our service reliability in a critical stretch of the LIRR. The signal and siding improvements at Hicksville will benefit thousands of customers who pass through this junction each day while the station improvements will make for a brighter commute for our Hicksville customers and we welcome community input as we go forward.”

The LIRR will also spend $13.8 million to modernize the signal system at the Divide Tower located just east of the Hicksville station, which controls all train movement on the Huntington/Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches east of Hicksville.

“I’m pleased to see that there are both aesthetic and service improvements slated for the Hicksville LIRR station. It makes sense to improve both the appearance and the operation of the station since so many residents use it. I’m glad the railroad has made Hicksville a priority,” New York State Senator Jack Martins said.

Ellison Avenue Bridge Project ($39.2 million)

An ongoing issue for residents and village officials for many years, the Ellison Avenue Bridge in Westbury will be demolished and rebuilt as part of the MTA’s Capital Plan.

The bridge, built in 1941, will be environmentally reviewed this year with contracts tentatively to be awarded in 2013 and completion set for the end 2014.

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro said that the village has fought to have the bridge replaced for nearly two decades, but Cavallaro expressed his relief now that a plan is finally in place.

“The replacement of the bridge will cause some inconvenience to our residents during the construction phase, but we are already working on, and have developed, a preliminary road closure plan. We will be sharing more details with [residents] as the project nears.

“In the meantime, we are very grateful to Senator Jack Martins and LIRR President Helena Williams for finally addressing this very pressing need of our community,” Cavallaro said.

The mayor also thanked former Village Mayor Ernie Strada and Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., chairman of the transportation committee and a Westbury native, who teamed with Senator Martins over the years on the bridge project.

“The reconstruction of the Ellison Avenue Bridge has been a long time coming. Because of the efforts of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro advocating for his community and the commitment of LIRR President Helena Williams, there is finally funding being directed toward this important project. The Village of Westbury deserves to have this bridge rebuilt and we will hold the railroad to its commitment,” Senator Martins said.

Mineola Drainage, Station Projects

The project will include an improved drainage system along the north side of the Mineola Station to correct a problem has historically been plagued by flooding. The LIRR is working with the Village of Mineola on potential track and station improvements that will improve pedestrian flow.

According to The Mineola American, the project includes a new underground drainage system, regraded and resurfaced parking lot, new lighting and walkways. Village staffers revealed the project was funded in large part through the $524,000 community block development grant Mineola applied for last month. The project is expected to last two months. The finished product will function as two new commuter parking lots, new curbs and catch basins to service water into new water wells.

LIRR’s Williams called the drainage work and bridge replacement “key projects that will benefit the Main Line and the local communities.”

News

A group of like-minded local residents banded together and saved more than 200 area trees from the chopping block — for now.

A state judge ordered Nassau County and the Department of Public Works to stop cutting down trees along South Oyster Bay Road, granting a temporary restraining order to a group of residents spearheading an effort to save the trees.

State Supreme Court Judge Antonio Brandveen scheduled a hearing on Thursday, Oct. 16 for the county to address complaints from residents, in particular a group called Operation STOMP (Save Trees Over More Pavement) founded by Hicksville native Tanya Lukasik.The Public Works department had planned to removed more than 200 30-foot trees in communities ranging from Plainview, Bethpage, Hicksville and Syosset.

For the past 16 years, Lucia Simon has walked from her home in Hicksville to her job at the Hicksville Public Library. She enjoys her job as a librarian and says that the staff has become like family to her. But for the past three years, Simon and 56 fellow co-workers have been frustrated at what she says is the library’s board refusal to negotiate a fair contract.  

“We have had no contract in three years. They refuse to bargain with us. Every time they come back to us it’s not fair,” says Simon.

However, the board of trustees disagree, saying that it has made a “fair offer.”


Sports

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School

Hicksville native progressing through Mets system

The Mets minor league system is enjoying a rare period of prosperity. For years, it was barren due to trading off high-ceiling players for major leaguers, or neglecting the draft in favor of the free agent market. Since General Manager Sandy Alderson took over, the organization has reversed course and put a much greater emphasis on player development. During his second-to-last season, however, former GM Omar Minaya took a chance and drafted a local catcher, Cam Maron, out of Hicksville High School in the 34th round.


Calendar

Spooktacular Halloween

October 17

Fall Festival

October 18

Veterans Casework Seminar

October 21



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