Inside the Safety Program at Urban Avenue LIRR Bridge Installation in New Cassel

At the core of MTA LIRR’s values is safety: for employees, contractors, customers and residents who live near our construction sites. Throughout the course of the LIRR Expansion Project, safety officials have been and continue to monitor every project element to make sure construction crews and nearby residents are safe during construction.

The strength of the project’s safety program was showcased during the weekend bridge roll-in at the Urban Avenue grade crossing elimination site in New Cassel July 20-21. For the first time in U.S. history, an innovative horizontal jacking method was used to install a railroad bridge. This groundbreaking technique is allowing the project to remain on schedule, and our safety teams were at the ready to ensure all went smoothly.

Urban Avenue 10-08-19Using safe backing techniques to get weekend work done at the Urban Avenue Bridge Roll-in on time and safely.
Urban Avenue 10-08-19Evan Arctander, Safety Lead for the project, stands in front of the Urban Avenue grade crossing in 2018 prior to its elimination.

“There were a lot of unknowns to be considered within such a short time frame,” said Evan Arctander, Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and the project’s Safety Lead. “We wanted to mitigate everything that could possibly go wrong. With many moving parts, there was a greater likelihood of one or more elements failing. The 48-hour window for the bridge push meant nothing could be left to chance.” Throughout construction, Arctander and his safety team and LIRR, MTACC and Design-Build Contractor 3rd Track Constructors (3TC) representatives were in constant contact to identify all possible risks and allocate appropriate resources where needed.

One considerable factor of concern, that required planning by several departments, was the extremely hot weather that was forecast for that weekend. Construction crews worked non-stop through that weekend as temperatures reached 98°F.

“We were deeply concerned with the heat and the impact it can have on our craft. We provided water coolers, shaded cooling stations, fans, and bandanas for our employees,” said 3TC Safety Officer Daniel Hannan. Workers suffering from heat exhaustion are at greater risk for accidents, since they are less alert and can become confused. “We used every resource at our disposal to give them everything they needed to remain comfortable given the harsh conditions,” said Hannan.

Urban Avenue 10-08-19Cooling stations were set up at Urban Avenue to give crews a break from the scorching heat.

The Urban Avenue Bridge was the first of five major bridge pushes the LIRR completed in Nassau County over 17 weeks between June and October, and the team learned valuable lessons to make the subsequent closures safer for all. The other four completed bridge-related projects are:

Urban Avenue 10-08-19The project team learned valuable lessons to make future construction activities safer for all involved

The Urban Avenue weekend construction and associated safety effort was the first of a series of tremendous successes.

“Having a plan in place and actually following it are completely different topics. I saw an amazing effort put forth by 3TC’s safety department and senior management to ensure our demands were met. We completed an extremely complex and tedious task, on one of the hottest days of the year, with no injuries. I am very proud to be a part of such a monumental task that will serve Long Island for generations.” said Arctander.

The construction of a third track from Floral Park to Hicksville will reduce train congestion and delays and enable true bi-directional service during peak hours with a more reliable rail network. This transformative work includes several related projects, including the construction of parking garages, retaining walls, improvements to rail bridges and the removal of eight street-level grade crossings. Construction is being managed to minimize the impact on daily routines, with extensive mitigation and public outreach efforts in local communities. For more information, please visit the LIRR Expansion Project Floral Park to Hicksville page on AModernLI.com.