MTA Board considers expanded PTC contract, LIRR bridge replacement plan

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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MTA Long Island Rail Road / John Spoltore

In a move to enhance the safety of Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) signaling systems sooner, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board committees approved the expansion of a contract with a joint venture of Bombardier Transportation/Siemens Rail Automation by an additional $11.3 million.


The joint venture is serving as the MTA’s positive train control (PTC) system integrator under a $428.5-million contract awarded last November. The contract amendment goes to the full MTA Board for consideration April 30.

“Bearing in mind that the safety of our customers is the top priority of the MTA and its railroads, we are taking careful steps to accelerate the implementation of this important technology,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast. “PTC will provide a strong layer of safety over our existing systems. It aims to eliminate the risk of accidents from train-vs.-train collisions or derailments resulting from excessive speed around curves. We support this technology and we want our customers to begin benefiting from it sooner rather than later.”

The amended contract would expedite by up to nearly two years the retrofitting of 836 LIRR and 474 Metro-North rail cars to enable them for send and receive PTC signals. Those retrofits will now be completed by April 2017.

The amended contract also will allow the railroads to deploy equipment at 175 locations alongside the tracks that will facilitate communication between the PTC central computers and the computers on board trains. This move will expedite by up to one year the installation of PTC on territory covering 85 percent to 90 percent of the railroads’ customers.

In other MTA news, a $39.2-million plan to construct a new bridge over the LIRR tracks at Ellison Avenue in Westbury was submitted for approval to the MTA Board, a project that would replace a deteriorating span for that has been used by cars, trucks and pedestrians for 73 years.

LIRR engineers have closely monitored the condition of the current Ellison Avenue Bridge, located between Carle Place and Westbury Stations, to ensure it is safe. The LIRR began planning for a new bridge after experts determined that the structure was at the end of its useful life. Currently, 90 percent of the deck is covered with steel plates and the New York State Department of Transportation (NTSDOT) has found serious deterioration in the structure.

The proposal was sent to the Long Island Committee of the MTA Board April 28 and is set to go to the MTA Board for a vote scheduled for April 30. Approval would clear the way for the railroad to issue a Request for Proposal for a contractor who would have to demolish the old bridge, then design and build a new span to the LIRR’s specifications by 2016.

“We have worked closely with local officials and Westbury community leaders who have long advocated for this project,” said LIRR President Helena Williams. “There is no question that the structure is need of replacement and that this project will create jobs while improving the ride for those who use the Ellison Avenue Bridge.”

The new proposed span would have a clearance of 18 feet. The LIRR is seeking a waiver from NYSDOT for the 18 feet clearance, which would avoid any impacts to adjacent properties.

Categories: Bridge/Retaining Walls/Tunnels, C&S, Commuter/Regional, OFF Track Maintenance, Safety/Training