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LIRR Completes Third Track Project

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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LIRR Third Track project, running from Floral Park to Hicksville. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

MTA Long Island Rail Road has completed its main line Third Track Project on time and under budget, providing the LIRR with a 9.8-mile triple-track section from Floral Park to Hicksville.

LIRR said the main line third track gives it additional operational flexibility, minimizing service disruptions and increasing capacity by 41% systemwide when Grand Central Madison (East Side Access) opens later this year.

The Third Track project is the centerpiece of the larger $2.6 billion Long Island Rail Road Main Line Expansion Project, which includes renewal of five LIRR stations (New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Mineola, Carle Place, and Westbury), elimination of eight at-grade crossings, upgrades to seven railroad bridges, parking expansions, installation of new sound attenuation barriers and landscaping improvements. With only minor station work left to complete, the project is heading toward the finish line $100 million under budget almost four years after breaking ground.  

Arup Jacobs JV served as project management consultant for Metropolitan Transportation Authority Construction and Development (MTA C&D). The JV team provided project management oversight that included commercial, risk, public outreach, rail operations and digital information management. The team also provided compliance oversight of design, construction, quality, safety and security.

The newly built third track is physically the southernmost track on the roadbed and will carry eastbound service. It opened in three sections, with the first leg opening Aug. 15 through New Hyde Park and Merillon Avenue and the second stretch to Mineola on Aug. 30. Critically, construction was completed without the need for residential real estate property acquisitions and with significant amount of community input. According to the MTA, this allowed the project team to create neighbor-friendly work zones using innovative methods and practices, such as:   

  • Frequent, regular meetings between the MTA and local elected officials, civic leaders, business owners, and residents to discuss the project.
  • Workers avoided clogging local streets. 
  • Constant advance informational outreach to keep local residents, authorities, and first responders informed of any traffic disruptions. 
  • Scheduling construction deliveries in off-peak hours and monitoring noise, vibration, and air quality on a regular basis.
  • Ensuring that residents would not be impeded when trying to access local businesses.
  • Door-to-door outreach and regular updates to the project website. 

The LIRR Main Line Expansion Project is part of a $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road. That money is funding more than 100 projects, among which are startup of service to Grand Central Madison, construction of a more spacious LIRR Concourse at Penn Station and a new entrance at 33rd Street, renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges, activation of Positive Train Control, installation of 13 miles of second main line track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases and yard expansions. Additionally, the MTA, with NJ Transit and Amtrak, plans to seek federal funding to rebuild Penn Station into a “world-class, single-level” facility.  

Marc A. Hermann/MTA

“This project was delivered on time and $100 million under budget, thanks to design-build contracting and many other new and innovative project management strategies,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “It’s especially incredible that this was all accomplished during a global pandemic and with no residential property takings. It shows that the MTA can deliver on its promise to bring megaprojects faster, better, and cheaper. And this expansion will be a huge boon for Long Island businesses, since it will increase access to the region’s talent pool by enabling not only a 40% overall increase in LIRR service, but a huge uptick in reverse peak train frequency. It’s a win-win-win.”  

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