The LIRR Expansion Project is contractually mandated to be finished in 2022, but a dispute over a bridge is threatening to delay completion.
As part of the $2.6 billion project, the Denton Avenue Bridge in Garden City is to be removed and replaced in order to accommodate a third track being added to the Main Line from Floral Park to Hicksville.
In August, the expansion project team said a dispute with the Village of Garden City was causing delays.
In a statement, the team said, “The Denton Avenue Bridge Replacement is on hold. Why? We are waiting for the Village of Garden City to issue the permits needed to begin this critical infrastructure upgrade.”
Garden City Mayor Cosmo Veneziale, an architect himself, released a statement on the dispute in August.
“At the current time, the Village is actively engaged in litigation with the Long Island Rail Road over issues involving the electric utility poles and the Denton Avenue area,” he said. “As of this date, no plan for the reconstruction of the Denton Avenue bridge and the related roadway has been finalized.”
Veneziale was referring to a lawsuit filed by the village against the MTA accusing the state-run transit agency of being deceptive when it installed steel utility poles reaching 93 feet above the ground and standing over neighborhoods. In July, state Supreme Court Judge Diccia Pineda-Kirwan dismissed the case, which was then appealed.
3rd Track Constructors (3TC), the developers for the project, said late design changes, which did not require village approval, affected four utility poles alongside the Merillon Avenue station, according to multiple reports.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, a Garden City resident, released a statement last year speaking against the actions of 3TC and the utility poles.
“The actions of the contractor certainly are at variance with the plan that was approved by the MTA Board and accepted by the community,” Clavin’s statement said. “Furthermore, the placement of the poles constitutes a violation of the public trust with an entire neighborhood by the MTA and its agents.”
According to the village and MTA’s construction updates, work on the bridge has not been started. Most recently, transmission lines and utilities were being installed east and west of the bridge in November.
The crossing is the seventh and final bridge that needs to be renovated as part of the expansion project, which began in January 2018.
Any potential delays run the risk of increasing the cost of the overall project, which includes connecting to Grand Central Terminal access from the East Side and increased accessibility to the recently completed Elmont LIRR station next to UBS Arena.
According to an MTA spokesperson, the agency is looking into an alternative for the time being which includes adding a track without a full reconstruction of the bridge. The idea would skip the need for a permit, but increase the cost of the already expensive project.
Efforts to reach Veneziale were unavailing.