Third Track Between Floral Park and Hicksville Gives LIRR More Flexibility During Disruptions and Allows for Service Increases When Grand Central Madison Opens This Year
Third Track Project Completed on Schedule and $100 Million Below Budget
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Governor Kathy Hochul today celebrated completion of the Long Island Rail Road's historic Third Track project on time and under budget. The new 9.8-mile track runs from Floral Park to Hicksville, giving the railroad more operational flexibility to minimize service disruptions and increase service by 41 percent systemwide when Grand Central Madison opens later this year, while improving safety and creating true bi-directional LIRR service to fuel the local economy.
"The completion of the historic Third Track project connects commuters with a more resilient and flexible railroad with frequent service, modern stations, ADA accessibility and more travel opportunities for Long Islanders and visitors," Governor Hochul said. "I applaud the MTA, local communities and the hard-working women and men of organized labor who worked together to deliver this transformative project on time and under budget."
Construction of the Third Track is the centerpiece of the larger $2.5 billion Long Island Rail Road Main Line Expansion Project, which includes the renewal of five LIRR stations along the route (New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Mineola, Carle Place and Westbury), the elimination of eight at-grade railroad crossings, upgrades at 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.
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, "This project is being delivered on time and $100 million under budget, thanks to design-build contracting and many other new and innovative project management strategies. 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."
Long Island Rail Road Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi said, "The completion of the LIRR Third Track gives the LIRR more flexibility to serve customers on the Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson/Huntington and Oyster Bay branches. When combined with the new terminal at Grand Central Madison and the newly renovated LIRR concourse at Penn Station, LIRR customers will have more frequent service, upgraded stations with a host of modern amenities, and easier reverse peak trips."
MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said, "Third Track will set the standard for MTA C&D projects moving forward. This project delivered on the promise of design-build, completing on time and under budget and using innovative methods to do so. The project minimized disruption to nearby communities, kept neighbors engaged and informed during the entire process, and maintained service with hundreds of trains running daily through our 10-mile-long work zone."
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 August 15 through New Hyde Park and Merillon Avenue and the second stretch to Mineola on August 30. Critically, construction was completed without the need for residential real estate property acquisitions and with an unprecedented amount of community input. 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 an unprecedented $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road. That money is funding more than 100 projects, including the opening 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 the Positive Train Control safety system, installation of 13 miles of second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases, yard expansions, and more. Additionally, the MTA, together with NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, plans to seek federal funding to rebuild Penn Station into a world-class, single-level terminal.
Suffolk County County Executive Steve Bellone said, "The success of the LIRR is key to the success of our region. With monumental investments in the LIRR in recent years, this year will go down as one of the most significant in Long Island history with the completion of the third track project. Third Track modernizes our transportation infrastructure on Long Island, and I want to thank Governor Hochul for once again delivering for our residents and commuters."
Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro said, "The completion and placement in service of the third track is a significant milestone on Mainline Third Track Project. As an early supporter of the project, it is gratifying to see the significant improvements that were promised coming to fruition. The impact on the commuting public should be meaningful and the project, when completed, will enhance and modernize the rail service to what our region deserves. The elimination of the at-grade crossings, as well as the other local improvements, will have a tremendous impact on the local communities along the mainline and in the region. These are the kinds of transformative infrastructure improvements that our residents expect from government and our tax dollars."
GO-505 General Chairman for SMART Transportation Division Anthony Simon said, "Thanks to the leadership and support from Governor Hochul, the third track is one of LIRR largest infrastructure projects coming in on time and under budget. This project will be a tremendous boost for LIRR commuters and the economy and will help to fuel local businesses. This will provide Long Islanders more reliable and frequent service."
Association for a Better Long Island Executive Director Kyle Strober said, "One cannot overstate the transformative impact this milestone will have on every facet of our vital mass transit connection to New York City. One hopes that future generations of LIRR riders will appreciate that their commute was made that much faster, easier, and efficient because of the men and women who worked on this project and the efforts of visionary public servants who saw it through to completion."
Long Island Federation of Labor AFL-CIO President John R. Durso said, "The last several years we have witnessed massive disruption around the world and across this country. Thanks to the steady leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, the skilled union workforce on Long Island, and cooperation across communities we stand here today with the 3rd track project delivered on time and under budget. It's completion has long been key to unlocking the economic potential of our region. It will yield a brighter future for generations to come, as well as increased and more reliable service for the workers of today. This is a big deal for businesses and workers alike."
Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties President Matthew Aracich said, "I applaud the efforts of Governor Kathy Hochul for seeing this project through to the end, and extend my thanks along with 65,000 skilled tradeswomen and tradesmen for her valuable leadership. Building a project of this magnitude was no small feat and without the full commitment and partnership of Governor Hochul, MTA CEO Janno Leiber, and the Building Trades Council we would not be standing here today. The completion of Third Track demonstrates the enormous value of investing in local union labor while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of transportation."
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Home Health Aide Robin Allen said, "I live in Queens and have been a home health aide for the past 8 years. My client is an 86-year-old woman in Long Island. She relies on me to prepare her meals and take her to her doctor's appointments. Before the third rail was in place, I used to have to get up at 5am to make my long commute. But now it takes me less than an hour to reach her on the LIRR, which has made a big difference in my life."