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MTA to Raise Frequently Struck LIRR Bridge in Garden City

Long Island Rail Road
Updated Feb 28, 2023 3:45 p.m.
LIRR Train

Crews to Raise Bridge at Cherry Valley Ave. on the Hempstead Branch Over Four Feet

Buses Will Substitute for Hempstead Branch Trains Between Floral Park and Hempstead for Five Consecutive Weekends

Additional Work Will Bring Nearby Cathedral Ave. Right of Way to a State of Good Repair

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced over the next five consecutive weekends, crews will raise the height of the bridge that carries the LIRR Hempstead Branch over Cherry Valley Ave. in Garden City. With a posted height of just 10’4”, the overpass is struck by over height vehicles more than any other in the LIRR system. Additionally, the right-of-way at Cathedral Ave., the railroad crossing east of Cherry Valley Ave., will be rebuilt on the weekend of March 25-26.

The bridge will be raised 12 inches at a time (a total of 36 inches) over three consecutive weekends starting March 4-5. On the final weekend of work, April 1-2, a new rail bridge will be installed with a clearance of 14 feet 5 inches.

Raising the height of the bridge is intended to reduce strikes by over height trucks, which pose a safety risk for drivers and delay train service. Following any incident, trains operate with slow speed orders while LIRR bridge inspectors travel to the bridge to ensure it is safe to operate at full speed.

“When over height trucks strike LIRR bridges it causes delays and creates a possible safety issue that inconveniences LIRR customers,” said LIRR Interim President and Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi. “Raising this bridge creates a safer, stronger, more reliable railroad – not just for the millions of people who use the LIRR each year but for everyone living on the Island.”

The Hempstead Branch’s Cherry Valley Ave. bridge was struck by vehicles 162 times over a 12-year period from 2010-2022. Comparatively, the second-most struck railroad bridge, located at St. James St. and Chestnut St., also on the Hempstead branch, was struck 50 times. Since 2018, thanks in part to the LIRR Main Line Expansion Project between Floral Park and Hicksville, the MTA has raised the heights of seven bridges, including what had been the third-most-struck bridge, a low-lying 1911-era bridge at Nassau Blvd. in Garden City with a clearance of 11’6”, which was replaced the weekend of Oct. 5-6, 2019, with a new bridge with a 14’ clearance. Nearby, the MTA had replaced the frequently struck bridge carrying the LIRR Main Line over Post Ave. in Westbury on Oct. 21-22, 2017, raising its 11’10” height to 14’0”.

The project to raise the bridge is part of an unprecedented $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road that 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 St., 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.

LIRR Service Changes

Beginning Fridays at 8:40 p.m. Hempstead Branch trains will make regularly scheduled stops through Bellerose where customers can change to substitute bus service for all stations between Floral Park and Hempstead.


Customers for Stewart Manor through Hempstead will be able to board buses at Bellerose for travel to their final destinations. Customers should plan for an additional 30 minutes of travel time to reach their destinations.


Customers at Hempstead through Stewart Manor will be able to board buses to Bellerose. Buses will depart 30 minutes before normal train departure times.

Floral Park customers will have regular train service to and from the station with ADA van service to all stations on the Hempstead Branch from Floral Park.

As an alternative to the substitute buses, normal train service will operate at the nearby stations of Mineola, Merillon Ave., New Hyde Park, Floral Park or Queens Village stations on these weekends. Customers can plan trips with the MTA’s TrainTime app. See special Hempstead Branch weekend schedules at: https://new.mta.info/agency/long-island-rail-road/timetables

Roadway Detours

On the weekends when Cherry Valley Ave. is closed (March 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19, and April 1-2) motorists will be advised to use Cathedral Ave. as an alternative.

When Cathedral Ave. is closed (March 25-26) motorists will be advised to use Cherry Valley Ave. as an alternative.