The Long Island Railroad’s nearly 10-mile-long Third Track through Nassau County is complete, officials announced Monday morning.
The $2.5 billion effort was considered and debated by Long Island planners for more than six decades before construction began in 2019.
“This is the end of a long, long journey,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference in a garage adjacent to the LIRR’s Westbury Station. Among the crowd were key figures from the project’s long history, including two former LIRR presidents and the current interim president.
The new track from Floral Park to Hicksville has long been considered critical to expanding the LIRR, which has operated on the same two tracks through the bottlenecked Main Line for more than a century. Limited infrastructure limited the railroad’s ability to run eastbound and evening westbound trains during the morning rush hour and work around unexpected service interruptions along the busy line connecting Ronkonkoma, Huntington, Port Jefferson, Hempstead and Oyster Bay. .
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The construction is finished On the Long Island Railroad’s new 9.8-mile Third Track, which runs from Floral Park to Hicksville, officials announced Monday. The LIRR says the additional capacity will allow them to increase service on the Main Line and recover more quickly from unexpected service disruptions.
After decades of planning and discussionthe project started in 2016 and construction started in 2019. Officials said the $2.5 billion in work was completed on time and under a $100 million budget, although some related station upgrades remain unfinished.
Although the project was highly appreciated By business and planning groups, some residents living along the project’s corridor have complained about the impact of construction.
With the soon-to-be-completed East Side Access megaproject, the LIRR says it will increase service by 40% and, for the first time, be able to adequately serve “reverse commuters” to and from work. Long Island.
“Now that the final phase of Third Track is complete, we can get the best out of them — more Long Island Rail Road service in two directions,” said LIRR Interim President Katherine Rinaldi.
The LIRR first tried to move forward with Third Track nearly a decade ago, but abandoned its plans amid fierce opposition from residents along its path and elected officials concerned about the impacts of construction. The original plan would have required the LIRR to build on private property, including some residents’ backyards.
In 2016, then-++Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at the urging of project supporters, revived Third Track using a new design and public outreach process that minimized the impact on residents, and proposed a number of new benefits, such as eliminating eight grade crossings.
However, Third Track faced resistance throughout construction, including in Garden City, where residents said the placement of utility poles and other elements of the project detracted from the look of their village. Construction has also resulted in frequent, major service disruptions, including this past weekend when service between Jamaica and Hicksville was suspended.
“For a long time, people didn’t expect this project to happen,” said MTA Chairman Janno Lieber. “There were many reasons why people resisted it. But we proved everyone wrong.”
The track runs from Floral Park to Merillon Ave in Garden City. The first part up to the station was opened in August. A few weeks later, the second segment to Mineola was completed. The final stretch brings the track up to Hicksville. Hochul and MTA officials said the project was completed on time and $100 million under the original $2.6 billion budget.
The entire 9.8-mile Third Track is in place and now in service, although some work remains on the project, officially known as the Main Line Extension, including various station upgrades. This work is expected to continue until spring.
Carle Place resident Peter Gaffney said despite Monday’s celebration, the project appears far from being realized in his neighborhood, where new plantings are already dying and concrete is crumbling and overgrown weeds are visible at the Carle Place station.
“They have more work to do,” Gaffney said. “They are in a hurry to do this because it is the fourth year. [of construction]. There are a lot of things they did that weren’t necessarily right.”
Garden City resident Richard Corrao Jr. similarly, the project near Merillion Avenue station, where project officials have promised to improve landscaping, appears to be “a long way from completion.” Corrao said the station is an “absolute mess” right now.
“They’re quick to cut the ribbon, but not so quick to fix the problem.
The long-awaited completion of the project was instrumental in making Track Three a reality by Long Island leaders and others.
“It’s been a long and hard fight, but it’s the right fight that will benefit current and future generations of Long Islanders,” former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. Cuomo resigned a year ago amid sexual harassment allegations.
Matthew Cohen, president of the Long Island Association, a business group advocating for Third Track, called it a “historic project” that will “result in economic development, help our region’s businesses and change the everyday lives of people traveling to New York.” The City and Long Island.”