What is the project timeline?

Visit the About The Project page to view the project timeline.

What is the LIRR Expansion Project?

The LIRR Expansion Project is a key initiative of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s comprehensive plan to transform and expand our vital regional transportation infrastructure to strengthen our local economy, create jobs, enhance our environment and protect Long Island’s future. The project will improve transportation service, public safety, and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people who travel, work and live on Long Island.

The project calls for the construction of a third track along a 9.8-mile stretch of the railroad’s heavily traversed Main Line corridor between the Floral Park and Hicksville train stations, and the elimination of the seven street-level train crossings along its route, among other benefits. These crucial infrastructure improvements would maximize the benefits of complementary LIRR projects, such as East Side Access to Manhattan and a second track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma. Every Long Islander stands to benefit from the new Main Line third track, which will improve reliability, frequency, and on-time service; provide new mass transit alternatives to driving; improve traffic, safety and noise conditions in communities with street level grade crossings; reduce noise levels along the tracks where retaining walls and sound attenuation walls would be installed; add commuter parking and enhance train stations in the project corridor.

What are the benefits?
  • Fewer delays and improved reliability for both peak and reverse-peak direction commuters with the extra capacity of a third track
  • Smarter scheduling that allows for two-directional commuting and easier intra-Island travel
  • Fewer delays and improved reliability due to extensive infrastructure upgrades, including signals and switches
  • Better service to employment centers on Long Island and in New York City
  • Less crowded trains for passengers boarding at Long Island stations, especially in evenings going westbound to New York City
  • Less crowded trains for passengers after delay-inducing incidents
  • Additional parking for commuters driving to rail stations
  • Upgraded stations and lengthened platforms for easier, faster, more enjoyable commutes
  • Fewer cars on the road, easing traffic congestion and improving air quality
  • The elimination of traffic congestion and safety issues caused by street-level train crossings along the project route
  • Noise reduction from the elimination of train horns and crossing gate bells required at street-level train crossings in the project corridor
  • Noise reduction from the installation of retaining walls and sound-attenuation walls along tracks in the project corridor

Will the LIRR need to acquire private homes to complete the project?

No. No residential homes will be taken for the project. The project eliminates the need for residential property acquisition by building the third track within the existing LIRR right-of-way and using retaining walls instead of wider earthen berms. Construction will be handled in a way to minimize the impact on property owners.

What if we don’t do this project?

As long as the two-track Main Line serves as the bottleneck for the numerous additional tracks feeding it from the east and west, the promise of better, more reliable service and faster commutes can never be accomplished.

Without better train service, people will remain in their cars and plans to ease automobile traffic and improve air quality will remain unrealized. The corridor between Floral Park and Hicksville will continue to suffer from commuter train congestion and there will be increased potential for disrupted service along the most heavily traveled line on the LIRR. It would also prevent the addition of true two-directional commuting options and severely limit intra-Island rail service.

As long as street-level rail crossings exist in the project corridor, the local community – from commuters trying to get to work to first-responders trying to get to emergencies to residents trying to get rest – will have to continue to deal with the traffic, noise and safety issues that these crossings pose.

Without the noise-reducing features of the LIRR Expansion Project in place, homeowners living along project corridor will be faced with greater noise levels both today and in the future, with significantly greater passenger rail traffic projected with the future completion of the East Side Access Project.

What does the LIRR Expansion Project have to do with the future of Long Island?

As population in the region grows so does vehicle traffic, and the need for better transit options becomes critical.

Now, more than ever, Long Island needs to leverage its mass transit infrastructure to attract new investment, create additional jobs, strengthen real estate values, and grow its economy.

With a third track, the LIRR will be able to more reliably run more trains on the Main Line during morning and evening peak periods, improve on-time performance, and provide an alternate path for trains in the event of a breakdown, fallen tree, weather event or other issue. All this will result in more frequent and reliable service, including expanded options for off-peak travel.

When the independent research organization, Long Island Index, undertook a study of a third track, it concluded the project would improve mobility on Long Island and benefit the regional economy.

Long Island-based businesses would find it easier to attract and retain employees, especially for specialized industries such as education, biotechnology, and the health sciences, the lifeblood of the Island’s economic health. Colleges and universities would also be more attractive to area students, who would be more likely to stay on Long Island to live and work after graduation.

How will the LIRR Expansion project benefit the environment?

In 2010, Long Island vehicular traffic, including cars idling at grade crossings, produced nearly 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or about 30 percent of the entire Island’s greenhouse gas emissions. And an area of the Long Island Expressway that runs parallel with the proposed third track is among the most congested stretches of highway in the nation.

If we do nothing, traffic in this corridor is expected to increase more than 25 percent over the next 25 years. With improved LIRR service, elimination of street-level grade crossings and additional mass transit options for Long Island, we can reduce traffic congestion, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

Will this project increase freight traffic on the LIRR?

No. The project is intended to increase capacity for passenger train service. The LIRR has committed that freight trains, which are currently running at less than capacity and do not need a third track, will continue to be prohibited from traveling along the Main Line during peak hours. The project will have no impact whatsoever on freight trains.

Are there regulations about the speed and cargo of freight trains?

Yes.  The speed of freight trains is limited to a maximum of 45 miles per hour to ensure safety for rail passengers and operators, as well as local communities. LIRR and federal regulations also require freight operators to carry freight materials in safe, appropriate, and regulated cars to ensure rail, road and community safety and comfort.

How will the LIRR keep noise, vibration and other disruptions to a minimum during construction?

Incorporating extensive input from local communities, the Project Team is exploring neighbor-friendly and innovative construction methods and practices to keep the impact of construction as minimal as possible. This community-focused approach to construction includes:

  • Pre-construction home inspections
  • Satellite parking to keep workers’ personal vehicles out of residential streets
  • Using existing track to transport materials to and from work sites
  • Advance notification of any disruptive work or road closures to residents, municipalities, school districts and first-responders
  • Scheduling construction deliveries outside of school and commuter traffic peak hours to the extent practicable
  • Creating and implementing a community noise and vibration monitoring program
  • Implementing an air quality control plan to include dust control measures, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, the use of best available tailpipe technologies such as diesel particulate filters, and the utilization of newer equipment
  • Environmental monitoring consistent with a Construction Health and Safety Plan
  • Protecting access to existing businesses
  • Street cleaning as needed
  • Door-to-door outreach to residents
  • Regular online updates to the public
  • Staffing the Project Information Office with on-site supervision for rapid response to neighborhood concerns
  • 24/7 hotline assigned to a community outreach representative

Where exactly will the three tracks go?

The third track will be added within the existing LIRR right-of-way, eliminating the need for residential property acquisition.  For technical drawings and maps of how the three tracks are proposed to be positioned within the LIRR right-of-way, see this appendix to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

How will the grade crossings be changed?

The elimination of the LIRR’s street-level rail crossings, called grade crossings, has been underway since the 1980s along the Main Line. There are still seven grade crossings remaining along the Main Line corridor between Floral Park and Hicksville—all of which will be eliminated as part of this project. The project team is working closely with local communities to identify the most appropriate solution for each grade crossing, building underpasses at most, while considering closures in potentially one or two cases.  Once the grade crossings are eliminated, there will be significant safety and noise benefits for local communities, since separating the paths of cars and pedestrians from that of trains will eliminate the need for loud train horns and gate bells to sound every time a train passes through.  For full details on specific proposals on grade crossing modifications, see the Environmental Impact Statement.

Why can’t we eliminate the grade crossings without adding a third track?

This is a comprehensive project that will benefit the entire region, reducing traffic and increasing safety for both regional rail riders as well as local community residents and drivers. Eliminating the grade crossings along the 9.8-mile stretch of the Main Line must happen at the same time that a third track is added because doing the work separately would make construction time, cost to taxpayers, and disruption to local communities many times greater.  See Chapter 18 of the Environmental Impact Statement for a full discussion of alternatives to the project.

If the project requires the taking of commercial property, will owners be reimbursed?

Yes. As noted above, the project will not require the taking of any residential property for construction of a third track. While commercial property acquisitions are expected to be minimal, those business owners will be compensated for their property and will receive assistance from New York State to relocate within the same community in which they are currently operating. Extensive outreach from the project team is currently underway to address these issues.

How is the LIRR informing adjacent property owners or businesses and how is it engaging the communities affected by the project?

Governor Cuomo has promised an unprecedented community outreach program as part of the project. This outreach has been ongoing since January 2016. The outreach activity includes:

  • Meetings with mayors and other officials representing the communities along the Main Line
  • Outreach to local community, business, and civic organizations in the affected communities
  • Signs, announcements and handout literature at stations and in train cars
  • The opportunity for all stakeholders – through the environmental review process – to comment on the project, review preliminary plans, and lend their ideas to the project
  • The release of a “Scoping Document” that outlines what potential impacts of the project would be studied by engineers and experts
  • Six public input meetings to take the public’s comments on what potential impacts of the project should be studied by engineers and experts. The meeting schedule is here.
  • A project website – aModernLI.com – that is updated regularly and through which residents can be in contact with the LIRR and others involved in the project
  • A project field office at the Mineola Station south platform that the public can visit to get information, ask questions and give comments

In November 2016, LIRR released a comprehensive environmental study – called a Draft Environmental Impact Statement – that describes the proposed project in detail, including its purpose and need, its benefits, the potential environmental impacts, and many other issues including community engagement.  Like the Scoping Document released before it, the draft study reflects extensive input from local communities and commuters, focusing on and making proposals on matters that matter to them.  The study was finalized in April 2017, incorporating input taken from the public on its earlier draft, and responding to comments made by the public.

As for engaging with communities during construction, Chapter 13 of the EIS notes that the project team is exploring numerous measures including:

  • Pre-construction home inspections
  • Advance notification of any disruptive work or road closures to residents, municipalities, school districts and first-responders
  • Creating and implementing a community noise and vibration monitoring program
  • Door-to-door outreach to residents
  • Regular online updates to the public
  • Staffing the Project Information Office with on-site supervision for rapid response to neighborhood concerns
  • 24/7 hotline assigned to a community outreach representative

What happens now?

In April 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the final release of a comprehensive environmental study – called an Environmental Impact Statement – that describes the proposed LIRR Expansion Project in detail, including its purpose and need, its benefits, its potential environmental impacts, and many other issues including community engagement.  The study incorporates input taken from the public on its earlier draft, and responds to comments made by the public.  Visit the About The Project page for more about the project timeline.

When will construction begin?

Construction is projected to begin in the second half of 2017 following the completion of the environmental review, the approval of funding and the selection of a design/build firm to finalize design and build the project.

What will the LIRR Expansion project cost and how will it be funded?

The Environmental Impact Statement contains, for purposes of the environmental study and analysis, a project cost estimate of approximately $2 billion.  The precise cost will be based upon competitive proposals made by construction firms who will be incentivized to design and build the project with minimized community impact and cost.  The project will be paid for with MTA and other state funds.

How do I comment on the project?

Anyone may comment on the project generally by writing via aModernLI.com, to info@aModernLI.com or visiting the Project Information Office at Mineola Station, south platform.

Comments may also be submitted via postal mail to:

Edward M. Dumas,
Vice President Market Development & Public Affairs
Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project
MTA Long Island Rail Road, MC 1131
Jamaica Station Building
Jamaica, NY 11435