LIRR expansion project on pause to review safety protocols

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Expansion on the Long Island Rail Road has been temporarily paused so that 3rd Track Constructors can review their safety protocols. (Photo from The Island Now archives)

Officials from the 3rd Track Constructors, the organization working on expanding the Long Island Rail Road, announced that expansion work will be temporarily halted to review safety protocols.

“Work on the LIRR Expansion Project is currently on a temporary hold, as we undergo a rigorous review of our safety protocols and procedures,” 3rd Track officials said in a statement Thursday. “Since no construction activities are currently scheduled for the beginning of April, our typical monthly construction look-ahead will be issued later in the month.”

Officials did not disclose how long the temporary pause on the construction of adding a third track on the Long Island Rail Road will be. The pause follows several incidents involving workplace injuries at the rail road’s Mineola station.

An ironworker was in critical condition after being electrocuted while working on the Third Track Project at the Long Island Rail Road station in Mineola in mid-March, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Officials from the transit authority said the incident occurred when crews were erecting a pedestrian bridge above the railroad tracks.  Officials said the crane that the workers were using came into contact with high-voltage wires.

Janno Lieber, the president of the authority’s construction and development, said the agency was investigating the incident.

“The contact with the high voltage line created an arc to the bridge that seriously injured a female ironworker who was on the structure at the time,” Lieber said. “She was immediately rushed to the hospital and is in critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, her family, and our crews, and we will continue to do everything we can to support them.”

Anthony Simon, who heads up the SMART Transportation Union 824, which represents the ironworkers, told news outlets he remains concerned about workplace safety after the incident.

“We are calling for a safety stand-down and to get legislation to get people out here to make sure this job is safe,” Simon said. “I am concerned that they are jeopardizing people’s lives so they can cut a ribbon.”

The worker was later identified as Kelly Gluchowski.  Efforts to reach a representative of the transit authority for an update on her status were unavailing.

Lieber subsequently came out and told Newsday that 3rd Track Constructors used equipment that “was not supposed to be used” and that the crane “steel pick” which resulted in the accident, did not have a “safe work plan” that the transit authority requires.

When you have an incident of this seriousness, you have to stop and examine what went on, what were the contributing factors, and to make sure you have the protocols and procedures to prevent that kind of thing from happening ever again,” Lieber told Newsday.

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