A low-clearance LIRR bridge on Cherry Valley Avenue in Garden...

A low-clearance LIRR bridge on Cherry Valley Avenue in Garden City is about to undergo construction work to prevent what happened above: A box truck failing to make it under the bridge.

Credit: Lou Minutoli

A low-lying bridge in Garden City, often struck by oversized vehicles, is getting a growth spurt, thanks to the MTA.

Over the next five weekends, crews will work to raise the height of the 152-year-old bridge that carries the LIRR Hempstead Branch across Cherry Valley Avenue, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Tuesday. The bridge, currently 10’4” in height, has been struck by over-height vehicles more than any other in the Long Island Rail Road system, the MTA said in a news release. 

Raising the bridge, built in 1871, is intended to reduce over-height trucks hitting it. Any time a vehicle hits the bridge, trains are required to operate with slow-speed orders while the bridge is inspected to ensure trains can safely operate at full speed, the MTA said. 

“When over-height trucks strike LIRR bridges it causes delays and creates a possible safety issue that inconveniences LIRR customers,” said Catherine Rinaldi, interim president of the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, in a news release.

“Raising this bridge creates a safer, stronger, more reliable railroad," she said, "not just for the millions of people who use the LIRR each year but for everyone living on the Island.”

Vehicles hit the bridge 162 times between 2010 and 2022. The MTA has raised the heights of seven bridges in the metropolitan area since 2018, including one in Westbury in 2017 and another in Garden City in 2019. A spokesperson told Newsday the MTA had previously considered raising the Cherry Valley Avenue bridge, but is doing so now because of the increasing number of crashes. 

Funding for the bridge is coming from $17.7 billion the MTA is using to modernize the LIRR. The project will cost $30.9 million, according to the MTA.

Work on the bridge is set to begin Saturday, when crews will raise the bridge 12 inches at a time. A new rail bridge will be installed the weekend of April 1. MTA crews will also rebuild the right of way at Cathedral Avenue, the railroad crossing east of Cherry Valley Avenue. 

Garden City Mayor Cosmo Veneziale did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the project. 

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