The LIRR Expansion Project was recently featured in Newsday, highlighting that the project remains ahead of schedule and under budget.
You can read the Newsday article below, including more on what’s to come for the project in the near future.
Silver lining for the MTA
There hasn’t been much good news recently for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
For months, the MTA board has had to ponder dire financial forecasts, especially because Washington can’t agree on COVID-19-related help for state and local governments. On Tuesday, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report that describes the MTA’s fiscal situation as the “greatest challenge in its history.”
So, the news that emerged Tuesday that the Long Island Rail Road’s third track project has reached its halfway point ahead of schedule and – amazingly – under budget, was a rare bright spot for the agency.
Four of the eight LIRR grade crossings have been eliminated, and six of seven bridges have been replaced or upgraded, according to an update from the MTA, through the project’s A Modern LI communication effort.
MTA Capital Construction President Janno Lieber told The Point Tuesday that the third-track project stayed on schedule and budget during the height of the pandemic thanks to remote monitoring and factory inspections and to the work done during weekend outages, which has often involved “piggybacking” efforts along the 10-mile stretch between Floral Park and Hicksville at the same time.
The next steps, said Lieber, are to finish station upgrades and improvements and to start laying the new track itself.
Among the highlights: the School Street crossing will open in November, months ahead of schedule, and the elevators at the Floral Park station are nearing completion, too.
All of that comes as the MTA has tried to manage community concerns and questions through a new ambassador program, even shifting schedules at times when necessary. That, too, has changed in light of the pandemic. Earlier this month, The Point learned, the MTA briefly stopped work on a weekend afternoon so a backyard wedding on Charles Street in Floral Park, right near the tracks, could take place without construction noise.
The same team that’s handling third track is also handling the construction of the new LIRR Elmont station, and the railroad is using the same outages to do work there, too, Lieber said.
East Side Access also remains on schedule for a 2022 completion, Lieber said, though he noted that that project has been “more of a struggle” because some of the work was indoors and therefore more difficult to do during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the money for third track and the East Side Access effort to connect the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal remains in place, because it was part of the last capital plan, which has been unchanged by the MTA’s current woes.
“They’re both funded, with no drama about that,” Lieber said.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall