MTA Successfully Advances LIRR Modernization Projects Despite Covid Challenges

While 2020 will likely not be remembered by most as one of their favorite years, MTA C&D successfully advanced a wide range of high impact LIRR modernization projects. MTA C&D, LIRR and contractors were able to eliminate five grade crossings, replace or expand three rail bridges, install switches for two interlockings, construct 25,000 feet of walls, complete three station enhancements and make significant progress on projects components not seen by the public, including substations, train yards and repair facilities.

Plainfield Avenue BridgePlainfield Avenue bridge

Among the bridges replaced or expanded was the Plainfield Avenue bridge in Floral Park. A third bay was added to accommodate the extra track that will be installed as part of the LIRR Expansion Project. Another bridge expansion was the Meadowbrook Parkway bridge in Carle Place, now ready to accommodate the third track.

Glen Cove Rd. bridge replacementGlen Cove Rd. bridge replacement

Additionally, the bridge over Glen Cove Road in Carle Place was completely replaced, with a new three-bay bridge built on site. The old bridge was removed and the new one rolled in and installed during a service outage in just one weekend.

Linden Ave underpassLinden Ave. underpass

Also, the Linden Avenue underpass, the only pedestrian access to the Floral Park Pool and Recreation Center from the north side of the LIRR Main Line, was rebuilt and expanded this past spring.

Governor Cuomo Cuts Ribbon on LIRR Overpass Which Eleiminates a Grade Crossing in Garden City 08-24-20Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, LIRR President Phil Eng, and MTA C&D President Janno Lieber cut the ribbon at the
opening to New Hyde Park Rd underpass (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Eliminating grade crossings will provide what many consider the most significant safety and quality of life enhancements provided by the LIRR Enhancement Program. Five grade crossings were eliminated in 2020. At New Hyde Park Road on the Garden City/New Hyde Park border, a five-lane underpass was constructed with two lanes in each direction and a turning lane on both the north and south side of the underpass, as well as pedestrian walkways on both the east and west sides of the underpass and a pedestrian walkway over the underpass’ south side. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, MTA C&D President Janno Lieber and LIRR President Phil Eng cut the ribbon, officially opening the roadway in August.

The School Street undergrade crossing on the border of Westbury and New Cassel, features a two-lane roadway with a pedestrian walkway on the east side. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, MTA C&D President Janno Lieber and other dignitaries cut the ribbon to open the roadway in November. The bridges carrying the LIRR over the underpasses were constructed on site and pushed into place during service outages in just one weekend. Service was restored in both instances in time for the Monday morning rush hour commute.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the media at the opening of the School Street underpassLt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the media at the opening of the School Street underpass. She is joined by MTA C&D President Janno Lieber, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, State Senator Anna Kaplan, Assembly Member Charles Levine, North Hempstead Town Council Member Viviana Russell and Westbury First Deputy Mayor Steven L. Corte.

The S. 12th Street grade crossing in New Hyde Park was permanently closed this year to make way for the construction of an ADA-compliant pedestrian underpass. In Mineola, the two grade crossings at Willis Avenue – one at the Main Line and one at the Oyster Bay branch – were closed in November in preparation for construction of an underpass to replace both grade crossings.

South 12th StSouth 12th St. pedestrian underpass

The elimination of the grade crossings enhance safety by eliminating the possibility of train/vehicle conflicts. They also enhance quality of life, as trains no longer need to sound their horns, and crossing gate bells were eliminated. Also enhancing the quality of life along the 10-mile long Third Track corridor are the 25,000 feet of walls installed in 2020, bringing the total length of walls constructed to 43,000 feet. The walls help to reduce noise as trains pass.

ADA-compliant pedestrian bridge over New Hyde Park Rd undergrade crossingADA-compliant pedestrian bridge over New Hyde Park Rd undergrade crossing

Three station enhancements also were completed in 2020 – Lynbrook, Murray Hill and Nostrand Avenue. Station enhancements include a number of upgrades, including new platforms, stairways, elevators and canopies.

Sound wallsSound walls

Additionally, free WiFi, charging stations and artwork at many stations undergoing enhancement provide an aesthetically pleasing and modern touch to these stations, used by thousands of LIRR customers daily.

Nostrand AvenueNostrand Avenue

A significant amount of work also took place out of the public eye. Switches for two interlockings – Nassau 1 and Nassau 3 – were installed during a series of weekend services outages. Interlockings enable the LIRR to move trains from one track to the other, making it possible for trains to be rerouted to other tracks in the event of a disabled train. Coupled with the third track when installed, this ability will greatly enhance service reliability, improving the ability to recover from system problems.

Nassau 1 interlockingNassau 1 interlocking

Installation of components necessary to power trains and signals also moved ahead this year. Electrical substations, which adjust voltage for use on the LIRR were installed in Floral Park, Freeport and New Cassel. Also, largely out of the public eye is the expansion of the Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard. The newly expanded yard will provide additional space to store, maintain, inspect and clean electric train cars. With COVID-19 still a serious health issue, cleaning of trains has become vital in combating the disease. The yard features 11 additional tracks, each with capacity for a 12-car train set.

Meadowbrook SubstationMeadowbrook Substation

Yet another facility that’s undergone major upgrades is the Morris Park Diesel Locomotive Shop in Queens. The facility maintains and overhauls diesel locomotives. The Morris Park facility’s upgrades include the installation of new maintenance bays, employee facilities, parts storage and wayside power for shop tracks. The new shop is completely enclosed, with roll-up doors to enable entry and exit of trains and will enable crews to work on four locomotives at one time.

Mid-Suffolk Train Storage YardMid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard

The impressive array of projects completed in 2020 has set the stage for what MTA C&D expects to be another successful year in 2021, particularly on the Third Track Project with the remaining grade crossings to be eliminated, the last of the seven bridges to be replaced, enhanced stations either completed or begun, and more.

Morris Park Diesel Locomotive ShopMorris Park Diesel Locomotive Shop

We’ll be back with a 2021 lookahead after the New Year. From everyone AModernLI.com, Happy holidays!