Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin
The LIRR Expansion Project was recently featured in Newsday, highlighting the grand reopening of Willis Avenue in Mineola.
You can read the Newsday article below.
Railroad completes work on Willis Avenue grade crossing in Mineola
By Alfonso A. Castillo
MTA officials on Friday announced they have completed work on the last of eight grade Long Island Rail Road crossing eliminations in Nassau County as part of the $2.6 billion Third Track project.
A new underpass along Willis Avenue in Mineola, below the LIRR’s tracks, was opened to traffic on Friday. It replaces a roadway/track intersection that occupied the corner for decades, causing traffic backups, safety concerns and other inconveniences.
“No more train horns. No more fates or illegal attempts to go around them. No more local traffic congestion and idling vehicles,” LIRR president Phillip Eng said at a ceremony Friday morning. “This is truly ingenuity at its best.”
The elimination of the Willis Avenue grade crossing, and seven others, are part of a broader effort by the railroad to construct a 10-mile long third track between Floral Park and Hicksville. After being stymied for years by local opposition, the state and the LIRR launched the project in 2016 with the promise of improving communities, in part through the elimination of the crossings.
MTA acting chairman and chief executive officer Janno Lieber noted that before the project commenced, just two grade crossings had been eliminated by the railroad in the previous 18 years. Engineers on the project used new building techniques that allowed the underpass structures to be prefabricated, and moved into place over a weekend.
Lieber signaled that the method could be used to jettison other problematic crossings in the future. There are still nearly 290 grade crossings throughout the LIRR system.
“We’re seeing all the benefits [of eliminating grade crossings], and we’re determined that we can extend those benefits more widely across the railroad system,” Lieber said.
The Third Track project, formally known as the LIRR Expansion, is scheduled for completion by December 2022.