Specialized Track-Laying Machine that Lays Rail 10x Faster than Before, Combined with Design-Build Construction, Will Allow for Entire Project to be Completed 16 Months Ahead of Schedule
While Touring Second Track, Governor Announces 24 LIRR Projects
Totaling $1 Billion to be Completed in 2018; 21 Additional LIRR Projects Will Break Ground This Year, Part of Governor's $6.6 Billion Transformation of Commuter Rail
Visualization of the New Double Track and Other Infrastructure Projects on Long Island Available Here
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Long Island Rail Road Double Track has reached a major milestone and the final five miles of rail being laid this month. The project utilizes Design-Build construction and a specialized New Track Construction machine that lays rail more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever done before, saving more than $7 million in construction costs and allowing for an expected project completion of August 2018 - 16 months ahead of schedule. Once complete, the Double Track, extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, will dramatically reduce delays on the LIRR and enable more off-peak service in both directions by adding nearly 13 miles of parallel track.
While touring the Double Track, Governor Cuomo also announced 24 LIRR projects totaling $1 billion - including the $121 million Hicksville Station Transformation and the new Wyandanch Station - will be completed in 2018. Twenty-one additional LIRR projects will break ground this year, including the $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project that will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville. Together, these projects significantly advance the Governor's $6.6 billion transformation and modernization of the Long Island commuter rail and $100 billion Infrastructure and Development Plan for New York.
AUDIO of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below.
Thank you. Well it's my pleasure, it's always a pleasure to be with Steve Bellone, who's doing a great job for Suffolk County. It's especially nice to be with Steve Bellone when we're not in the middle of a snow storm or an ice storm or a bomb cyclone or anything like that. Just a little fog today, which is a good day for us to be together. Our new colleague Laura Curran who's the Nassau County Executive. The Nassau - Suffolk relationship is very important. Long Island is working together as a region [inaudible] long time and that makes all the difference in the world, you know? Nassau for many years was considered one entity, Suffolk was a different entity, it doesn't work that way. They are not only neighbors, they're interconnected, they're linked. And that partnership is important, it's working. Kevin Law from the Long Island Association whose group itself makes that point.
We have a number of labor leaders who are here and without whom this project would not be possible. Starting with Anthony Simon, who is a great labor leader, understands the need to get this done and get it done quickly, and he has been phenomenal to work with. We have a longtime friend from the Long Island Fed and RWDSU John Durso. I look a lot younger than he does, I know, but we're longtime friends. Sorry. We have Dick O'Kane who has been a great leader for the building trades. Let's give him a round of applause. And Matt Aracich, who's also been a great labor leader and partner in progress. Let's give him a round of applause.
We have Janno Lieber who is the new head of the MTA Development. He has brought phenomenal experience. I worked with him in Washington, DC during the Clinton Administration. He's also been in the private sector. So he understands about getting projects done and getting them done on time. And that's exactly the expertise he's brought here, so let's give him a round of applause.
You know the Long Island Rail Road is an interesting story. 1834 they first build the Long Island Rail Road. 1834. And think about it. They build the Long Island Rail Road to go from Manhattan to the tip of Long Island for one purpose, which was to connect to a ferry and the ferry would take you to Boston. That's why they built the Long Island Rail Road. Just to get to the ferry. That was their daring. That was their vision. That's how gutsy they were. All that distance just to get to a ferry. As it turns out, the ferry route doesn't work out. It's not economically feasible. So the original purpose of building the railroad actually didn't occur. But what it did do was it opened up a conduit to Long Island. And now people could get out to Long Island and they could take the train back to Manhattan and the explosion of the Long Island development then started. Parkways, expressways were built. And it started bringing people out. So the LIRR starts as this great bold vision. And then along the way we lose that daring, we lose that boldness, and we let the LIRR deteriorate.
The population increases, the demand increases, its equipment, its switches, electric, electrical switches, its steel, and we let it deteriorate for decades. And then we got to a point of delays and breakdowns and overcrowding etcetera. Well why didn't we do anything? Well, number one, it's expensive. Number two, no one wants construction. The quote unquote nimby factor is a problem especially on Long Island, so we did nothing. And now we've gotten to a point where the delays are intolerable.
And we got together, everyone you see, Nassau and Suffolk, labor and management and the MTA, and we said enough is enough, we have to modernize the Long Island Rail Road, and we have a $6.6 billion plan to do that. $6.6 billion is the single largest infrastructure in history on Long Island. And this is not a piecemeal project. This is a modernization from one end to the other. Over 100 projects are contained within the modernization. We're looking today at the second track. The second track is about 13 miles and goes from Ronkonkoma to Farmingdale. The other big track lane project is what's called the Third Track, and that is about, that is about 12 miles—goes from Floral Park to Hicksville. Those are the two track lane programs. But, we are redoing 39 stations, we're building parking garages, multi-story parking garages, so commuters have a place to park. We're redoing the switches, we're redoing all the equipment, we're updating it with costumer friendly conveniences on the trains and in the stations, and most importantly we're getting it done. We're getting it done.
You know, when you say to people government is going to undertake a big project, their eyes roll. Why? Because they hear a government project—they hear inefficiency, they hear overruns, they hear waste, and that it's never going to happen in their lifetime. That's the cynicism that people have. Why? Because too many government projects were just that. They were slow and wasteful etcetera. That's not how we're doing it. We've employed new methods that have never been done before. We have what's called the design-build process where we basically get government out of the construction business, because that's not what government does. And we turn it over to private sector companies that do it. We hold the private sector contractors' feet to the fire and we expect them to get it done and get it done when they say they get it done.
And we're bringing in technology and equipment we've never used before. Like the track lane machine that is behind us. This is a specialized piece of equipment; it works all around the country. It can do about one mile per day. It greatly reduces the number of people who have to work on it, it greatly expedites the entire project.
Of the 100 projects that we're working on, 24 will be finished this year. Another 21 will be started this year so this is a very aggressive and ambitious time table. This project, the second track, is actually going to be done 16 months ahead of schedule. So when was the last time you heard a government project being done ahead of schedule? So we have to keep the partnership, we have to keep the coordination and every day, every day, every day being diligent, making sure we clear whatever road blocks and in this case whatever traffic blocks we run into. But I want to thank everyone for their partnership. The county executives, I want to thank the labor leaders. Everyone is doing everything they can to say let's not do it the old way—let's do it the new way, let's do it together, and let's get it done.
The terminus for the Long Island Rail Road in Manhattan is going to be a new station that will be an annex to Penn Station. Penn Station is way beyond its time to be run by Amtrak. It's a terrible destination point. I call it the seven levels of hell. They don't like it, but it's true. Across the street we're building a brand new train hall, the Farley Train Hall, which is going to be state of the art and this train will come into that hall so it will be a totally different experience for Long Island commuters. This is also a part of an overall network we're rebuilding. We're building a new LaGuardia Airport, new JFK Airport, we've gone to cashless tolling, we're doing work on the roads so when you put it all together it's going to fundamentally transform Long Island for the better. And again thank you to all my partners.