Keeping You Moving (Safely!) Throughout the LIRR Expansion Project Corridor

Flaggers keep those working on or near the railroad safe and help ensure trains can keep running even when extensive construction is going on.

Ready for a riddle?

What do you, a transportation manager, and a railroad operations manager have in common?

Answer: You all want to travel on the Long Island Rail Road safely and conveniently!

Meet two integral members of the LIRR Expansion Project’s Project Management Team: Brian Doohan, transportation manager, and Tim Keller, railroad operations manager. They joined AModernLI to chat about how they keep North America’s busiest commuter railroad operating alongside construction of one of the country’s largest regional transportation improvement projects. Ever wonder what a ‘flagger’ does? How track outages are arranged? Read on!

AModernLI (AMLI): Tell us what you do for the LIRR Expansion Project.

Brian Doohan & Tim Keller (BD & TK): To put it simply, we schedule all daily and long-term track outages and additional force account support that 3rd Track Constructors (3TC), the design-builder, needs to construct the project. On a deeper level, this translates to providing daily protection for the countless contractor crews working on, next to or near the Railroad.

AMLI: What does daily protection look like?

BD & TK: Whenever work is done adjacent to the railroad, we need to have flaggers present. They’re one of our main tools protecting workers, while also making sure the Railroad can continue operating during ongoing construction.

AMLI: What exactly does a flagger do?

BD & TK: Flaggers listen and watch for approaching trains and signal to workers when a train nears the worksite. Flaggers may sound horns or give hand signals to indicate a train is approaching – crews will then stop and move to a safe area to allow the train to safely pass through the work site.

AMLI: It seems like safety is a big part of your work.

BD & TK: By developing operating plans for track outages and conducting long-term planning, we make sure the Railroad operates effectively, and safely, even while extensive construction is happening. This means keeping an eye out for all workers who may be close to the tracks, as well as having the right plans and resources in place to protect people working in the area – and to protect passengers.

Double Track OutageTim and Brian develop long-term operating plans for track outages like during the recent double track outage for the Nassau 1 Interlocking installation in September 2019.

AMLI: What are some of the considerations that go into scheduling track outages?

BD & TK: On a practical level, we have to understand 3TC’s needs, such as timing, equipment, and construction approaches. We coordinate with them to ensure we have a clear picture of the work happening, but the passenger remains the priority. The 9.8-mile long corridor carries a significant number of people every day. Our goal is to enable the work to get done with little or no inconvenience to LIRR customers.

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 and accessibility improvements, 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 project page on

Brian Doohan
Tim KellerTim Keller