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Floral Park residents concerned about third-track construction

The MTA said major construction will begin next year and will result in a 6-month closure of Covert Avenue, nighttime work and vibration analysis to monitor potential damage to homes from the trains.

An artist's rendering shows the Covert Avenue underpass

An artist's rendering shows the Covert Avenue underpass that would be built as part of the proposed LIRR expansion project. Photo Credit: MTA

Residents in Floral Park and nearby villages expressed disappointment last week after hearing how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will roll out construction work on its LIRR third-track project.

During a civic association meeting on Thursday, about a dozen residents were told that major construction starts next year and that some of it will occur at night. Residents said nighttime work will make it tough for them to sleep, and one resident specifically complained about train vibrations possibly damaging her home, prompting a Long Island Rail Road representative to address her concerns.

“During construction, we’re going to do vibration analysis and we’re going to have monitors there,” said Hector Garcia, LIRR senior director of external affairs. “We’re not intending to damage anybody’s houses.”

The MTA is building a 9.8-mile track on the LIRR Main Line from Floral Park to Hicksville. In December, the MTA hired 3rd Track Constructors , or 3TC, to build the track.

Garcia told the residents that workers are doing pre-construction tasks — such as surveying, soil borings and clearing vegetation — between now and September. Judith White, community ambassador for 3TC, said a part of the major construction in Floral Park begins in February or March, when the MTA plans to close a section of Covert Avenue, a major north-south roadway that runs from New Hyde Park through South Floral Park and into Stewart Manor, for six months.

Residents gasped when they heard the timeframe, but White sought to downplay the impact.

“When Covert Avenue opens, you will no longer have trains that you’re waiting for,” she said. “They will be going underneath. There will be no blowing horns at Covert Avenue.”

Garcia said the MTA will share detour routes for the Covert closing with village officials next month. The MTA also plans to share its entire construction schedule, including details on the new sound-retaining walls, with village officials by the end of August.

One resident said people who live near the train tracks should be more concerned about vibrations than sound.

“Sound will not break our foundations or the walls of our homes,” said Karen Reiter, whose Garden City backyard is a few feet away from the LIRR tracks. “The vibrations from the trains coming closer to our home is what is going to break our foundations.”

Reiter said there is vibration-damping technology that 3TC could put inside the sound walls to prevent potential damage. She said she doesn’t believe the MTA is taking that necessary step.

“We know this is for the greater good, the third track, to get people into the city to work,” Reiter told Garcia. “But we don’t benefit at all from it. You’re not putting any systems in to protect us.”

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