On the weekend of October 21-22, the Long Island Rail Road replaced the 103-year-old bridge that carries the Main Line over Post Avenue in Westbury. The new bridge has a bay for the LIRR’s future third track, making the project the first Main Line Expansion-related initiative to be completed since the expansion project was approved in July.
Extensive Community Outreach
The LIRR worked closely with the Village of Westbury on coordination of all phases of the bridge project from design through construction.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo came to Westbury on October 5 to hold a press conference announcing the bridge replacement. In the weeks between that announcement and the bridge replacement work, the LIRR engaged in a massive effort to get the word out to the public about the work and its impacts, including temporary traffic detours. The railroad notified all area elected officials and the news media, posted signs, purchased ads in local publications, alerted LIRR customers and the public via email alerts, text messages and posts to its website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The railroad even went door to door to conduct outreach to local businesses, church and residential properties adjacent to the project work area to make sure they knew what to expect during the weekend and address any questions about the road closure.
“With Third Track construction on the horizon, we treated our public outreach efforts for the Post Avenue Bridge replacement work as a ‘dry run,’ for the amount of public outreach we’ll perform for any and all Third Track-related work that comes in the future,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “We’re pleased that the weekend work was completed hours ahead of schedule. Between the successful installation of the Ellison Avenue Bridge in Westbury over the course of one weekend in October 2015, and the Post Avenue Bridge replacement over the weekend of October 21-22, the LIRR has shown its ability to ensure that complex infrastructure upgrades take place with the least amount of disruption possible – both to communities and to the railroad’s customers.”
New Bridge Benefits
The replacement bridge at Post Avenue is two feet, two inches higher than the previous one, ensuring that trucks of up to 14 feet high can safely pass underneath without striking the bridge. The low height of the previous bridge, 11 feet, 10 inches, was one reason why an average of seven trucks struck the previous bridge each year. Each time a truck strikes an LIRR bridge, traffic on the local streets is detoured and disrupted, and LIRR trains and thousands of passengers they carry can be delayed while structural engineers inspect the bridge.
At the majority of the railroad crossings that will be eliminated through the Third Track project, crews will build bridges to carry the railroad over roadways, elsewhere, the project calls for the replacement of existing bridges. All of the newly built bridges, whether they’re replacing aging bridges at the end of their functional lives, or whether they’re allowing for the elimination of dangerous railroad crossings, will be designed to the latest height clearances recommended by the New York State Department of Transportation – meaning a reduction in the traffic impacts caused when trucks strike railroad bridges.
Like the project to replace Westbury’s Post Avenue Bridge, all work will be done by design-build contracting, which means contractors build to their own designs, minimizing the chances for delays and encouraging on-time completion.
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