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Long IslandTransportation

LIRR back on schedule after bridge work, signal trouble

A train crosses over the Cherry Lane Bridge

A train crosses over the Cherry Lane Bridge in Carle Place as the replacement work continues into the morning commute Monday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Long Island Rail Road had delays throughout Monday and into early Tuesday morning due to work on the Carle Place bridge replacement project and other issues, the railroad said.

The Cherry Lane bridge replacement project led to speed restrictions that had caused 5- to 10-minute delays on the Port Jefferson branch, the LIRR said. All the track and signal work was complete by 4:05 a.m. Tuesday and trains were cleared to move through at normal speeds.

An LIRR spokesman said a train was held at New Hyde Park from about 6:15 to 6:35 p.m. Monday while police investigated a possible assault on a train. Other trains were delayed when a Montauk branch train was rerouted to the Babylon branch. 

By 7:30 p.m. Monday, the LIRR service status page showed delays on the Babylon, Montauk, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches, mostly caused by the New Hyde Park incident. 

Replacement of the 66-year-old Cherry Lane bridge was scheduled to disrupt service on the railroad's Main Line throughout the weekend. Crews worked to take down the existing rail bridge carrying the LIRR’s tracks over Cherry Lane and replace it with a newly assembled one, an LIRR spokesman said.

Though the work was scheduled to wrap up Sunday, crews were still working Monday on the final stages of  the project. Trains were required to slow down to 30 mph as they passed Carle Place, causing delays of 20 to 30 minutes as of 7 a.m., he said.

The morning commute was further complicated by signal trouble at Jamaica Station that caused westbound delays of 30 to 45 minutes through the area. In addition, the railroad reported "technical difficulties" with its public address system at many of its stations Monday morning, hampering some customers' ability to stay informed.

"Technicians are working to resolve this trouble. We apologize for the inconvenience," said the LIRR, which resolved the problem by around 10 a.m.

Compounding the delays was a temporary service disruption at Mineola because there was a report of a person on the tracks about 4:30 a.m., the spokesman said.

The bridge project is part of the LIRR’s $2.6 billion effort to construct a third track on its Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville. The new bridge will be wider to support the new track, and it will be elevated by 14 inches to reduce the potential for truck strikes. The new height of the bridge will be 14 feet.

The troubled first commute of June comes as the LIRR has been steadily improving its on-time performance in recent months. The railroad's April on-time performance of 95.3 percent was the best since October of 2012, when it reported an identical figure. 

The LIRR has now improved its on-time performance in four of the past five months — dipping only in February when the fatal accident of two trains hitting a vehicle on the tracks in Westbury caused cancellations and delays over three days.

The improved numbers come after the LIRR in 2017 and 2018 recorded its worst on-time performance since 1999. 

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