A Long Island Rail Road project to ease the flow of trains through a busy Queens junction will cause some peak-period service disruptions this summer.
The LIRR will cancel three morning rush-hour trains and two evening rush-hour trains from July 19 to Aug. 19 as crews begin work on a new westbound bypass track at the Harold Interlocking in Long Island City, officials announced Monday.
The project requires taking two tracks out of service to excavate beneath them and install a concrete slab under which the new bypass track will be constructed.
When complete, the new track will allow westbound trains to bypass much of the complex, interwoven train traffic at Harold, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has called the busiest train junction in the country. Located just east of the East River tunnels that lead into Penn Station, the Harold Interlocking is used by the LIRR, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and freight rail carrier New York & Atlantic.
The bypass project "allows us to really untangle Harold and create really a straight pathway so trains will be able to access Penn Station more efficiently," LIRR president Helena Williams said during MTA committee meetings. "There is, of course, some pain associated with gain."
That pain will include the cancellation of the 6:54 a.m. train from Central Islip to Penn Station; the 7:55 a.m. from Little Neck to Penn; and the 8:10 a.m. from Freeport to Penn.
In addition, the 6:33 p.m. train from Penn to Babylon and the 6:05 p.m. from Penn to Wantagh will be canceled during the project. A few other trains also will have their times or origins changed.
LIRR officials said taking the two tracks out of service for a month allows the railroad to finish the project quickly and return to full service. The alternative would have been to carry out the project over "many, many weekends," Williams said after the meetings.
Once the concrete slab is installed, crews can continue building the bypass track without affecting LIRR service, officials said.
The LIRR separately plans to construct an eastbound bypass through the Harold Interlocking. The two projects, which received funding from a $450 million federal grant for high-speed rail service in the Northeast Corridor, are expected to be completed by 2017.
LIRR SCHEDULE CHANGES
Peak period LIRR trains to be canceled from July 19 to Aug. 19:
6:54 a.m. from Central Islip
7:55 a.m. from Little Neck
8:10 a.m. from Freeport
Evening rush from Penn Station
6:05 p.m. to Wantagh
6:33 p.m. to Babylon
Other trains will experience changes in times or origins.
Source: Long Island Rail Road