MTA and local officials announced the completion and opening of the new Denton Avenue bridge in Garden City on Monday, marking another milestone in the Long Island Rail Road’s $2.6 billion Third Track project.
The Denton Avenue overpass was the seventh and final bridge to be replaced in coordination with the project, MTA officials said. The replacement, which was needed to accommodate the nearly 10-mile-long third track being built between Floral Park and Hicksville, has been officially in the works since January — days after the village granted the work permits that the railroad had been seeking for nearly a year.
The village, the LIRR and the MTA had been embroiled in an ongoing feud over the project. In 2021, the village sued the LIRR and MTA, saying that utility poles erected as part of the Third Track project were too close to residents’ homes. A State Supreme Court justice threw out the suit, stating that the MTA made no promises about where the poles would go.
The MTA then contended that the village had withheld the permits for the bridge replacement to retaliate over losing the lawsuit, while Garden City officials argued that the authority had not followed the proper procedure in seeking them.
The village refused to grant the permits even after a state Supreme Court justice compelled it to do so, before granting them days after the LIRR, on Dec. 22, 2021, asked the court to hold the village in contempt.
The bridge was replaced and raised to the national standard height of 14 feet. The roads near the bridge were also repaved and landscaping nearby is still being added. Officials hailed the milestone as they inch closer to completing the Third Track project.
“Denton Avenue is the smallest bridge we’ve done, but in many ways it was the most challenging,” Interim LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi said Monday.
Rinaldi said under the new schedule, 95 trains will be able to run through the Merillon Avenue station during a typical workweek — an increase from 52 trains.
“For the longest time, the Third Track project was a gleam in the eye of transportation professionals and local business community leaders,” she said. “Nobody could get it off the ground and here we are today nearly finished, having executed on a smart plan that minimalized disruption to residents and that required no seizure of property.”
Garden City Village Mayor Cosmo Veneziale said collaboration between the village and LIRR made the reconstruction possible.
“Today marks a historic day with the reopening of the Denton Avenue underpass as was the day the Denton Avenue bridge was constructed more than 100 years ago,” Veneziale said.
MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said the project stayed “exactly on budget” and Third Track remains on course for completion by the end of the year.
With Alfonso A. Castillo