The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road announced on Monday the start of a $120 million construction program designed to protect the Long Beach LIRR branch from the kind of devastating damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
To better fortify the branch, construction is beginning on a four-year project to build three new power stations, replace switch machines, signals, communications systems and third-rail equipment and harden the electrical system that powers the Wreck Lead Bridge, which spans Reynolds Channel and connects Island Park with Long Beach.
“The LIRR is an economic lifeline for tens of thousands of residents who commute to and from work each day via the Long Beach branch,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “It is no less important to the City of Long Beach, a destination for thousands heading to the community’s beautiful public beachfront and its popular restaurants and nightlife. There is no better insurance for the economic vitality of this region than ensuring the safe and reliable future operation of the LIRR’s Long Beach branch.”
The first phase of the project will include an extensive clearing of trees and bushes on LIRR property to make way for a new pole line that will anchor new signal, communications and electrical systems and keep them well above the flood plain. The work began on Monday, and will take approximately four weeks to complete, weather permitting.
The cutting will take place along the south side of the LIRR right-of-way — the area surrounding the tracks — starting around Horton Avenue, in Lynbrook, and moving east. At Broadway, near the Centre Avenue station, it will be done on both sides of the tracks through to Centre Avenue, near the East Rockaway Station. It will continue on the south side of the right-of-way, through Oceanside and Island Park to the Wreck Lead Bridge. The plan is designed to minimize the impact on neighboring communities.