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LIRR upgrades to cause weekend shutdown for trains east of Jamaica

By Ivan Pereira

The Long Island Railroad plans to shut down more than 40 percent of its service in Queens and Long Island this weekend to in order bring its systems into the 21st century.

LIRR President Helena Williams announced the agency's 10-week track upgrade will culminate with a 48-hour shutdown between Jamaica and Hempstead. Crews will be working around the clock to finish the Queens Interlocking Switch & Signal project, which will fix misaligned tracks along the route and update the signals with computer-controlled switches.

“The project will benefit our customers by providing a smoother ride over crossovers,” Williams said. “I urge customers to plan ahead and review the affected timetable.”

The work is being done all day both Saturday and Sunday on the track between the Queens Village and Bellrose stops, which the LIRR said needs great improvement with its outdated track and signaling system. Williams said the service changes will affect the nearly 90,000 riders who use the Hempstead, Huntington/Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Oyster Bay Branches.

The $60.4 million upgrade project began June 16 and is scheduled to be complete Sept. 1. The LIRR's new system will use state-of-the-art computer systems instead of manual levers dating to 1910 to switch trains between tracks.

The MTA will provide shuttle buses on some of those routes and will redirect other trains to different stops to keep service moving.

For more information log onto www.mta.info or call 718-271-LIRR (5477).

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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