Thursday, April 13, 2017

Long Island Rail Road expansion moves forward

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A rendering of a new Mineola Station as part of the LIRR Expansion Project. A rendering of a new Mineola Station as part of the LIRR Expansion Project. LIRR

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) expansion project has been issued following more than a year of data collection, analysis and public outreach.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the FEIS confirms the expansion project will improve LIRR service, reliability and safety, for both residents and commuters on Long Island.

The LIRR Expansion Project plans to add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville and eliminate all seven street-level grade crossings within the project corridor.

"Expanding the Main Line is crucial to the future success of Long Island businesses and its residents, and this environmental study brings us one step closer to fulfilling New York's goal of providing reliable, safe travel for all," Cuomo said. "By increasing rail capacity and eliminating street-level grade crossings, this project will reduce congestion and help build a transit system that meets the demands of 21st century travelers, marking another major step forward in our efforts to build a brighter future for Long Island."

Officials said the study's findings confirm that the LIRR expansion project will improve service and reduce delays for customers throughout the system by adding a third track to the bottlenecked, two-track section of the Main Line in Nassau County. The elimination of grade crossings in the project area will also reduce delays and improve safety by eliminating trains horns and crossing bells, end idling of automobiles at crossing and reducing traffic jams. The study demonstrates that by constructing sound barriers and retaining walls, the project will significantly reduce noise in local communities by blocking sound from trains.

MTA Interim Executive Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim said, "This comprehensive study is the result of exhaustive research, data collection, analysis and public consultation, using some of the strictest environmental standards in the nation. It confirms not just vast benefits for commuters throughout the entire LIRR system, but for our neighbors in the project corridor as well, with significant reductions in noise and the safety and convenience benefits that come from eliminating grade crossings, building sound barrier walls and parking garages and updating stations."

LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said, "This completely new effort to fix the two-track bottleneck on the LIRR's Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville is like none that ever came before it – with exhaustive community participation, no residential relocations and significant reductions in noise and improvements in safety for local residents."

The construction of the project will break with past LIRR projects as Cuomo has directed the project use the "design-build" contracting technique, which places oversight of the construction in the hands of private construction firms. The Governor's office said utilizing this technique will shorten the construction timeline, improve efficiency and minimize the impact of the project on surrounding communities and rail passengers.

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