Parking garage, substations highlight 2021 LIRR accomplishments

Parking garage, substations highlight 2021 LIRR accomplishments
The Long Island Rail Road could be seeing some infrastructure improvements in the coming months. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

The $2.6 billion Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project is contractually mandated to be completed in late 2022, and the MTA said that it is on track and on budget to complete the four-year project. 

In December, the project released milestones accomplished in 2021, which entail a number of community improvements to Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Mineola, among others. The project is adding a third track on the Main Line from Floral Park to Hicksville.

In Mineola, the eighth and final Main Street grade crossing was closed in February and replaced with an underpass. The two-year construction project joins Willis Avenue and the two crossings in New Hyde Park at Covert Avenue and South 12th Street, among others.

Another checkpoint in Mineola entailed the opening of the Harrison Avenue parking garage. The structure, one of two completed in 2021, has been constructed at the Mineola station west of Mineola Boulevard between Harrison Avenue and First Street and replaces a surface-level parking area. The five-level garage represents a net increase of 446 parking spaces. 

The December opening ended years of delays that constantly pushed back the scheduled transfer of ownership from the MTA to the village. 

MTA spokesperson Kayla Shults said the project will serve taxpayers. 

“The LIRR Expansion Project remains on time and on budget and continues to be the best example of the MTA’s new method of empowering one team to complete design-build contracts,” Shults said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “The project has many benefits for the community and for LIRR riders that were already put in place this year, including grade crossing eliminations, station reopenings in Carle Place and Floral Park, new electrical substations and two new parking structures.”

For Floral Park, the G13 substation has been installed to help  provide power for the increased workload when additional trains are in service. Furthermore, the Floral Park station is ADA accessible thanks to the installation of elevators. For 2022, residents can expect the sound wall construction on the north side of the tracks, behind homes on Charles Street, to be completed in March, according to Trustee Archie Cheng. 

Another substation has been delivered to New Hyde Park, and as for the village’s station, improvements are to be continued into the new year including infrastructure and rehabilitation work. As for the sound wall between Covert Avenue and New Hyde Park Road, residents can expect its completion in the first quarter of 2022. 

In Elmont, the first new LIRR station in almost 50 years opened at nearby Belmont Park, days before the UBS Arena opened to the public.

A potential delay for the project may come in Garden City, where the Denton Avenue bridge construction has long been delayed amid a battle between the village and MTA. 

Since 2019, the MTA has been trying to get permits required for street closings and road excavations in order to rework utility mains. However, the village has refused to issue any, delaying the project for months.  

On Nov. 30, Judge Helen Voutsinas sided with the MTA in the lawsuit filed in order to get the permits earlier this year. Garden City appealed the ruling, and lost  last Wednesday in the New York State Appellate Division. 

MTA officials said that the agency on Monday filed motions asking the court to hold Garden City in contempt of court after the village disobeyed the order.

The MTA said it was seeking a daily fine of at least $50,000 until the village complies. 

Denton Avenue remains the outstanding project that has yet to begin, and the MTA, according to court documents, is expecting to complete in four months what was originally believed to be a six-month process. Nonetheless, officials said that the project remains on schedule and will be completed on budget.

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