LIRR Third Track Would Improve Commute, Help Environment: Study

A study looked into impacts of the Main Line expansion, which affects 40 percent of all Long Island Rail Road riders.

A Draft Environmental Study on a proposed third track expansion of a train line used by 40 percent of all Long Island Rail Road riders shows that the project would prevent LIRR delays, improve safety, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease noise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The LIRR Expansion Project looks to add a third track to 9.8 miles of the LIRR’s Main Line, located between Floral Park and Hicksville, and eliminate all seven street-level train crossings within that area. This train line is used by commuters on the Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson branches, as well as some on the Montauk Branch. The line can affect riders throughout the LIRR system, including the Oyster Bay and Port Washington branches.

“Expanding the Main Line is crucial to the future of Long Island and its residents,” Cuomo said in a press release. “By increasing capacity on one of the LIRR’s busiest corridors and eliminating all street-level grade crossings, this project will result in less traffic, less congestion and a transportation network that meets the needs of current and future generations of Long Islanders.”

The Metropolitan Transit Authority says this proposed project is “completely different” from prior expansion proposals for LIRR’s Main Line. The last proposal was made in January 2016. This new project looks to improve service for more than half a million passengers per week.

The new LIRR Expansion Project proposes:

  • No residential property acquisitions
  • Eliminate all grade crossings within the 9.8 mile project corridor
  • Building sound walls to reduce noise
  • Station upgrades
  • Additional parking
  • Increase reliance on private construction industry expertise to lower the construction period, impacts and cost.
  • Encourage feedback from local officials, residents and stake owners while the project is being planned.

The LIRR Expansion Project released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to identify any potential impacts of public construction projects and help ensure that the work is done safely, responsibly and with public input.

“We have gone to extraordinary lengths to listen to what the public wants out of this project,” MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said. “We will continue to study the impacts of this proposal and take input from all stakeholders, including our neighbors along the tracks and Main Line customers from across Long Island and New York City.”

The MTA says the elimination and modification of all seven train crossings, which will be overseen by the Department of Transportation, will:

  • Reduce road traffic
  • Reduce pollution from cars idling at crossing gates
  • Eliminate noise from train horns, crossing bells and honking cars
  • Improve safety by getting rid of areas where vehicles and pedestrians can collide with trains

NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll says the grade crossing elimination will lead to a “significant improvement in quality of life for many people.” NYS took the questions and concerns of many community members when developing the crossing elimination options, he said.

Station upgrades from the expansion project include:

  • New switches, signals and power equipment
  • New and longer platforms to accommodate full-length trains.
  • Removing delays and safety issues associated with passengers needing to move between cars on shorter platforms.

The MTA says the project is beneficial to the environment and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to reduced car trips from the additional and more reliable train service.

The benefits of the project are outlined in the Draft EIS, which is available for download on the project’s website.

The public comment for the Draft EIS is underway and will continue through Jan. 31, 2017. The public may comment on the Draft EIS by emailing A Modern LI or visiting the Project Information Office at the south platform of the Mineola Station.

During the public commenting period, the project team will meet with residents in area neighborhoods to help the public understand the Draft EIS and how the the project affects them. Another six public hearings, which will focus on the Draft EIS, will be held in January 2017, and will be listed on the website. Input from the current public comment period will be incorporated into the Final EIS, which is expected to be completed in 2017.