New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that Urban Avenue in New Cassel, the first of eight Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) grade crossings to be eliminated through the LIRR Expansion Project, has reopened to traffic.
"The LIRR is the backbone of the region's economy and we are modernizing it to create a more reliable service for passengers - with their convenience and safety as top priorities," stated Governor Cuomo. "The grade crossing that was eliminated and replaced with this newly opened roadway is part of a plan to eliminate all dangerous crossings and proceed with our nation-leading investments to give New Yorkers a 21st century transportation infrastructure."
The grade crossing was eliminated by the placement of a new bridge using "box-jacking" that reduces the length of time the tracks must be taken out of service. Workers built a 140-ton concrete structure onsite that includes the rail bridge, the 40 feet of roadway beneath the bridge, and the side walls connecting roadway below with the rail bridge above, with hydraulic jacks raising the structure into place over the course of one weekend.
"It's a pleasure to reopen this roadway according to the expedited timeframe we've set for this project,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “This approach to grade crossing eliminations exemplifies our approach to the entire LIRR Expansion Project. We're doing it smarter, faster, within budget, and with unprecedented community outreach and input."
Railroad crossings at Covert Avenue in New Hyde Park, New Hyde Park Road in New Hyde Park, School Street in New Cassel, as well as two at Willis Avenue in Mineola, will also be replaced by underpasses as part of the LIRR Expansion Project.
"This project will lead to a safer and more reliable operation for the LIRR,” said Phil Eng, LIRR president. ”It reinforces everything we are doing through the LIRR Forward plan to improve safety, reduce risk, improve train operations, and reduce the potential for events beyond our control that cause train delays or cancellations."