Bridge completion marks first step in Third Track expansion
All it took was one weekend for the Long Island Rail Road to replace the Post Avenue Bridge in Westbury, a span that has been struck by dozens of trucks in the past six years, resulting in train delays. The work was completed ahead of schedule, with the first regularly scheduled train passing over the new bridge at approximately 1:48 a.m. on Oct. 23.
The new bridge’s height clearance allows trucks of up to 14 feet to safely pass underneath, improving LIRR system infrastructure and service reliability. The old bridge, that hovered over Post Avenue at 11 feet 10 inches, had been struck by trucks between five and nine times per year in each of the past six years. Train delays in both directions would loom as LIRR crews worked to determine its safety and structural stability before restoring train service.
“The project was one that had to be done in a 52-hour period and I’m happy to report that the project actually finished early,” said Patrick Nowakowski, president of the LIRR. “It was a success due to the amount of planning that went into this.”
The completion of the new bridge marks the first completed initiative related to Third Track since the Main Line Expansion Project was approved in July. The $9.7 million Post Avenue Bridge project, which was executed as a design-build contract, is now 50 feet wide—13 feet wider than its predecessor—a width that allowed for a section of third track to be placed. The $2 billion Third Track project will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville, that will allow for added train service, reverse-commutability and delay mitigation.
Crews from Halmar International, Inc. worked around the clock starting Friday, Oct. 20, using a unique construction method with a remote controlled lifting device. That transporter lifted the 103-year-old bridge, which remained intact, after it was cut away from its connection to the abutments, and placed into an adjacent parking lot. Then, the new bridge, which had been constructed in the adjacent parking lot, was lifted in its entirety and put into place over the roadway. The contractor then had to modify the abutments to support the new bridge height.
To allow for this work, LIRR customers using stations between Mineola and Hicksville were accommodated by buses as the work necessitated a Main Line track outage starting at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, until the first eastbound train rode through early Monday, Oct. 23.
“It was a success due to the amount of planning that went into this,” Patrick Nowakowski
Nowakowski called the project, along the Main Line at a critical location, a “great service improvement for our riders,” a sentiment echoed by Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro who said that the project is an asset to local drivers and residents.
“This project will improve the vehicular and pedestrian safety of Post Avenue by eliminating the bridge strike hazard that had plagued the bridge for decades. Also, the bridge replacement is consistent with the DRI projects we have planned as well as the Third Track project work that the MTA plans,” he said. “All in all, it is another major improvement and expenditure of capital resources in the village that will enhance our infrastructure for decades.”