MTA to Raise Frequently Struck LIRR Bridge in Garden City During Weekend Work

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently announced that crews will raise the height of the bridge that carries the LIRR Hempstead Branch over Cherry Valley Avenue in Garden City over the next five weekends.

With a posted height of 10 feet 4 inches, the overpass is more frequently hit by overheight vehicles than any other in the LIRR system. In addition, on the weekend of March 25-26, the right-of-way at Cathedral Avenue, the railroad crossing east of Cherry Valley Avenue, will be rebuilt.

Starting March 4-5, the bridge will be raised 12 inches at a time, for a total of 36 inches, over three consecutive weekends. A new rail bridge with a clearance of 14 feet 5 inches will be installed on the final weekend of work, April 1-2.

Raising the height of the bridge is intended to reduce strikes by over height trucks, which endanger drivers and cause train delays, MTA said.

Following an incident, trains are subjected to slow speed orders while LIRR bridge inspectors travel the bridge to ensure that it is safe to operate at full speed.

“When over height trucks strike LIRR bridges it causes delays and creates a possible safety issue that inconveniences LIRR customers,” said LIRR Interim President and Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi. “Raising this bridge creates a safer, stronger, more reliable railroad—not just for the millions of people who use the LIRR each year but for everyone living on the Island.”

Vehicles struck the Hempstead Branch’s Cherry Valley Avenue bridge 162 times between 2010 and 2022. In comparison, the second-most struck railroad bridge, located on the Hempstead branch at St. James Street and Chestnut Street, was struck 50 times.

Since 2018, the MTA has raised the heights of seven bridges, due in part to the LIRR Main Line Expansion Project between Floral Park and Hicksville, including what was the third-most-struck bridge. A low-lying 1911-era bridge at Nassau Blvd. in Garden City with a clearance of 11’6″ was replaced during weekend work in October of 2019, with a new bridge with a 14-foot clearance.

In October of 2017, the MTA replaced the frequently struck bridge carrying the LIRR Main Line over Post Avenue in Westbury, raising its 11-foot height to 14 feet.

The project to raise the bridge is part of a $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road that is funding more than 100 projects, MTA said. 

As an alternative to the substitute buses, normal train service will operate at nearby stations including Mineola, Merillon Avenue, New Hyde Park, Floral Park or Queens Village stations during the planned weekend work.