Pieces of concrete fell from the east end of Long Island Rail Road Valley Stream train station overpass on Friday afternoon, hitting the sidewalk below. There were no reports of injury.
Although the station has seen substantial renovations over the past decade, including $5 million in improvements announced in 2017 that included bike racks, digital signs and phone charging stations, the incident highlighted the need for an overhaul of its concrete elements, which were originally constructed in 1933.
“It’s old infrastructure,” said Valley Stream native and frequent commuter David Darmstadter. “Thank God no one was killed.”
State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages told the Herald in March that she planned to push for funding in the LIRR’s upcoming five-year capital plan to repair the concrete overpass. The project, she said, would likely involve major construction and significant disruptions, requiring the tracks to be lifted, as the concrete beneath is re-furbished.
The incident only reinforced the need for repairs, she said.
“We were very lucky that no one was injured,” she said. “We should not be leaving these things to chance.”
In addition to earmarking funds in the capital plan, she called for an immediate study into the structural integrity of the station, and said that she would be push the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take more proactive steps to protect commuters.
“Now it’s more important that ever,” she said of the station infrastructure. “My true belief is that time is of the essence.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, in a letter to LIRR President Philip Eng, called for emergency repairs to be made to the station.
“Friday’s incident makes clear that immediate repairs are necessary,” he wrote. “The LIRR has a responsibility to make sure that its commuters feel safe at LIRR stations, and last week’s event shows that more work is necessary.”
He added in an interview that he too would push for funding in the LIRR’s next capital plan to address the station’s concrete, but that more immediate work would be required to ensure safety.
“I think it needs greater attention, and it needs it as soon as possible,” he said of the station, noting that whatever repairs funded through the upcoming capital plan would be too far out to address safety concerns in the short term.
In response to the falling debris, an LIRR spokesperson reported that an engineering inspector had been dispatched to the location to evaluate the concrete, and that they had found the problem to be localized to the specific segment of concrete, with no other areas presenting an immediate problem.
Additionally, the LIRR plans to assess its entire viaduct system in its upcoming capital plan, and prioritize which concrete sections will be most in need of renewal. The costs of such a project, would not be known until the assessment is complete, according to the spokesperson.