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$375m worth of plans to improve the LIRR in Queens

Digital rendering of how the LIRR Starion will look after the upcoming renovations

Big changes in the horizon

Governor Andrew Coumo announced big changes are coming to the Long Island Rail Road. The city has a budget of $5.6 billion fot these renovations. In Queens, developers will upgrade the Jamaica Station and several stops along the Port Washington Line.

Jamaica Station is vital for the food functioning of the LIRR since it handles most of its trains. Furthermore, it is one of the busiest transportation hub in the country. $375 million from this budget are to be used exclusively in this station. Jamaica Station will be completely renovated, with higher speed switches, new signals and a brand new platform. This platform will help streamlining operations and will increase the reach of the service. Trains from Jamaica will be able to reach Penn Grand Central and Atlantic Terminal Stations after this process is finished.

In order to reach Atlantic Terminal, developers will construct a dedicated track within the station. This will be specially relevant for commuters from Brooklyn. The plans show that developers expect to build glass-enclosed waiting areas that will also feature Wi-Fi and charging stations. As far as existing platforms goes, builders will lenghten five of them. Once these platforms are improved, they will be able to make room for full-length trains, that feature 12 cars each. Commuters will be thrilled once the renovations are done, since the immediate result will be smaller crowds and fewer delays.

Much needed improvements

Back in September 2016, Governor Cuomo and the LIRR approved a renovation contract for the station. The efforts to streamline the track configurations at Jamaica Station have been ongoing since 2010. Nevertheless, the renovation contract the Governor confirmed last year was for almost $65 million. This plan included the creation of a new platform and extra passenger service tracks.

Overall, the project calls for the renovation of 39 stations. The other Queens stations that will be a part of this plan are the Flushing-Main Street, the Mets-Willets Point and Bayside stops on the Port Washington branch and the Hunterspoint Avenue station.

The Flushing-Main street LIRR station started its renovations some time ago. Builders completed the first phase last year in March . Among other things, the renovations improved the railings, making them safer and thicker and added new signage. Major infrastructure improvements are also underway, spanning the whole of the LIRR. Builders upgraded 13 electrical power substations and fortificated 12 bridges.

This announcement could not have come at a better time, after the city’s commuters faced what the Governor himself dubbed “Summer of Hell”. Amtrak is in charge of construction at Penn Station, and in order to facilitate the renovations, the LIRR is operating under a special schedule. The LIRR cancelled and rerouted certain trains that arrive to the station and compensated with special perks the riders who needed to use said lines. Currently, these commuters are taking alternative routes into Manhattan.

A city’s need

Governor Cuomo emphasized why these renovations are so important for the city: “with the complete transformation of the Long Island Rail Road, New York is recapturing the bold ambition that made our infrastructure the envy of the nation and building for the future”. [QNS]