There’s some pretty big news coming for LIRR commuters and it’s got a price tag of $56 billion. That’s according to the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his efforts connected to the “transformation of the Long Island Rail Road to strengthen the region’s transportation infrastructure and usher in a new era of economic growth.”
Let’s just say that we feel it’s about time and about 70 years in the making. Ok, 50 as we’ll give the system 20 years before it needed some TLC. After all, the Long Island Railroad is the busiest commuter train system in the nation and it is the main form of transportation to and from work for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
One of the main areas for improvement is the Penn-Farley Complex. If you will remember, we recently blogged about the Gateway Project, which will connect travelers from across the Northeast corridor and bring riders into the heart of the system which is part of Penn-Farley Complex. The complex will feature the new Moynihan Train Hall, a $1.6 billion, 255,000 square foot facility that is expected to open in 2020.
The Penn-Farley Complex also includes the newly opened West End Concourse, which enables LIRR commuters to board trains without entering Penn. WOW! This also includes completion of the long awaited East Side Access project that will – ready for this? — create the first direct LIRR service to the east side! That will result in an increase capacity to and from Manhattan. It sounds almost too good to be true!
There are 39 stations that will be improved for passenger experience, flow and convenience. The main parts of the plan include:
Main Line Third Track
The $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville, and eliminate all seven street-level grade crossings within the project corridor. There are some eminent domain takings associated with this project.
The $387.2 million, 12.6 mile double track project will enable the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, with off-peak service going from one train every hour, to one train every 30 minutes in both directions.
Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard
Due to lack of east end storage, the state is building a $128 million Mid-Suffolk Storage Yard in Ronkonkoma. The Yard will provide additional space for train car maintenance, inspections and servicing for the electric fleet and thus allow the LIRR to increase service during the AM rush by almost 50 percent, adding eight westbound trains to the current AM schedule.
Jamaica Station Signals, Tracks and Infrastructure
The configuration of tracks at Jamaica Station has not been updated since the station opened in 1913. As part of a $375 million project, the state is reconstructing Jamaica Station, which handles nearly all LIRR trains, including higher speed switches and new signals, and a new platform to streamline operations and increase service capacity to Atlantic, Penn and Grand Central.
It might take more than one “Summer of Hell” but hopefully we’ll have a commute from heaven when it’s all over. If we’re not retired by then…