A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 5, 2018, to mark the beginning of work for the $2.6-billion Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Third Track expansion, which will benefit 40 percent of LIRR riders.
The expansion effort includes 50 projects that will modernize 9.8 miles of LIRR Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville. Those projects include adding a third track, eliminating all seven street-level grade crossings within the project corridor, adding new power substations and parking, and modernizing track and signal infrastructure.
“Since the 1940s, people talked about adding a third track and modernizing the Main Line corridor – and now we’re actually doing it,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. “These projects taken together will create smoother and more reliable service for LIRR passengers while at the same time improving public safety by eliminating dangerous grade crossings. The LIRR is the backbone of the region’s economy and this expansion effort will boost growth for generations.”
Benefits of the project will include smoother and more reliable commutes, safer and quieter crossings, improvements to stations and parking facilities, reduced noise along the project corridor as well as less congestion and cleaner air. The new Third Track will be built with advanced dampening technology. The project also includes sound-reducing walls along nearly six miles of residential neighborhoods along the mainline and features architectural treatments to complement the surrounding environments.
Janno Lieber, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) chief development officer said, “This project is innovative in many ways. It’s a design build project, which delivers better budget and more certain schedule. And we have designed to minimize community impacts and created significant economic incentives for the contractor to respect community commitments. We’re showing how the MTA is changing to deliver benefits to the public faster, better and less expensively.”
Project elements along the Main Line corridor include:
- 8 miles of a new third track;
- 7 grade crossing eliminations, including Covert Avenue, South 12th Street, New Hyde Park Road, Main Street, Willis Avenue, Urban Avenue and School Street;
- 7 bridge replacements and modifications, including South Tyson Avenue Bridge, Plainfield Avenue Bridge, Tanners Pond Road/Denton Avenue Bridge, Glen Cove Road Bridge, Meadowbrook Parkway Bridge, and Cherry Lane Bridge;
- 5 station improvements, including New Hyde Park Station, Merillon Avenue Station, Mineola Station, Carle Place Station, and Westbury Station; in addition to ADA-compliant elevators at Floral Park Station;
- 7 substation replacements, including Floral Park Substation, New Hyde Park Substation, Merillon Avenue Substation, Mineola Substation, Carle Place Substation, Westbury Substation, and New Cassel Substation;
- 5 miles of sound/retaining walls; and
- Additional improvements throughout the project corridor.
The Third Track expansion project is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2022. Work on the Main Line is part of the historic $6 billion transformation of the LIRR to strengthen the region’s transportation infrastructure and usher in a new era of economic growth. In total, approximately 100 transformative LIRR capital projects are moving forward, including the Main Line Third Track, Double Track, Jamaica Station Reconstruction, 39 renovated Long Island Rail Road stations and grade crossing eliminations.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said, “Today is a grandly historic day for the LIRR and the MTA. This project will help the railroad overcome day-to-day operational challenges and dramatically increase capacity, and it will unlock the railroad’s potential to serve reverse peak travel and propel Long Island as an economic growth engine. It has been a wish list item for as long as the MTA has existed, and today it is clear it will become a reality.”
The MTA awarded the $1.8-billion design-build contract to 3rd Track Constructors, which is a consortium of construction firms including Dragados USA, Inc., John P. Picone Inc, CCA Civil, Inc., and Halmar International LLC. Stantec will act as the consortium’s lead engineer.