By JON CRONIN
The Forest Hills and Kew Gardens Long Island Rail Road platforms will be a little less crowded in the future as the MTA began an expansion of each one by 200 feet this past week.
The MTA will lengthen the platforms to accommodate six cars of a train, rather than the current four cars. LIRR trains can be up to 12 cars long.
The platforms at both stations will be expanded 200 feet westward and be composed of steel scaffolding structures supporting fiberglass decking.
“We’re committed to improving conditions for our Queens customers, and this will make boarding and exiting trains less congested, faster and more pleasant at both stations,” LIRR President Phillip Eng said. “We’re taking a new, expedited approach, making improvements quickly to current needs with lower-cost yet sturdy materials, while we evaluate a longer-term, permanent solution.”
Eng said that ridership at these stations is high, and expedited deboarding could speed up trains that are backed up behind those stations. Out of 124 stations, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens are the 51st- and 56th-busiest stations, respectively. Forest Hills’ weekly ridership is 1,967, while Kew Gardens has 1,778 riders.
With concerts at Forest Hills Stadium—which is less than a block from the LIRR station—becoming more and more popular, the number of riders at the station has increased.
“Longer platforms should speed up our mainline service for all customers traveling between Penn Station and Jamaica,” Eng stated.
Prepping for the additions was scheduled to begin on July 23 and is to be conducted by LIRR personnel. The work will be assessed by the staff, who will identify end dates and the cost of the project.
“This plan is a step in the right direction towards making our commutes safer and faster,” Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D- Flushing) said. “The extension of the platforms comes as a welcome addition for our Kew Gardens and Forest Hills communities. I commend President Eng on making proactive investments in Queens.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said he was pleased that the LIRR was taking active measures to speed up trips for the thousands of residents who ride the train in the two communities.
“By extending the platforms at these two stations, passengers will have an easier egress off of the train, reducing delays and making a better trip for everyone,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the final results once construction is finished.”