By NATHAN DUKE
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the Long Island Rail Road is breaking ground on its $2.6 billion third-track expansion, which will include 50 projects to modernize 9.8 miles along the LIRR’s congested main line between Floral Park and Long Island’s Hicksville.
The expansion project includes new and renovated bridges, the elimination of grade crossings, new power substations, additional parking, renovated stations, and modern track and signal infrastructure.
An estimated 40 percent of LIRR riders pass through its main line.
“Since the 1940s, people talked about adding a third track and modernizing the main-line corridor—and now, we’re actually doing it,” Cuomo said. “These projects taken together will create smoother and more-reliable service for LIRR passengers, while at the same time improving public safety by eliminating dangerous grade crossings.”
Cuomo said that the LIRR is “the backbone of the region’s economy,” and he expected that the expansion would “boost growth for generations.”
The governor added that the project’s benefits would include safer and quieter crossings, improvements to stations and parking facilities, reduced noise along the project corridor, less congestion and cleaner air.
Seven grade crossings—including the one on New Hyde Park Road—will be eliminated, while five stations—including New Hyde Park—will be upgraded.
The Floral Park Station will receive ADA-compliant elevators. Substations at Floral Park and New Hyde Park will be replaced, and 7.5 miles of sound-retaining walls will be added.
The third-track expansion project is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2022.
As part of the $6 billion transformation of the LIRR, approximately 100 LIRR capital projects are moving forward, including the Jamaica Station reconstruction and 39 LIRR station renovations and grade-crossing eliminations.