Cuomo announces $375M plan for LIRR Jamaica Station, Port Washington line upgrades

Jamaica LIRR Rendering
Rendering courtesy of Cuomo’s office

Major capital improvements are coming to important hubs on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in Queens.

The $5.6 billion LIRR transformation plan, announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 19, calls for the Jamaica Station and certain stops along the Port Washington Line in Queens to be upgraded and reconstructed.

Jamaica Station handles nearly all LIRR trains and is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the country. Cuomo announced plans for a $375 million reconstruction project that includes higher speed switches, new signals and a new platform to streamline operations and increase its service capacity to Penn, Grand Central and Atlantic Terminal Stations.

A dedicated track to Atlantic Terminal will be constructed within the station and Brooklyn-bound commuters will be able to take advantage of glass-enclosed heated waiting areas, Wi-Fi and charging stations. Five existing platforms will also be lengthened to accommodate full-length, 12-car trains, reducing station crowding and resulting delays.

In September 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the LIRR approved a $64.9 million renovation contract for the station that included plans for the creation of a new platform and additional passenger service tracks. MTA efforts to streamline track configurations at Jamaica Station began in 2010.

A total of 39 LIRR stations will be renovated as part of the overall improvement project. Four other LIRR stations in Queens will undergo enhancements “to improve passenger experience, flow and convenience,” including the Flushing-Main Street, Mets-Willets Point and Bayside stops on the Port Washington branch and the Hunterspoint Avenue station.

Flushing-Main Street rendering
Flushing-Main Street rendering

Phase one of the MTA’s Flushing-Main Street Long Island Rail Road station renovation, which included the addition of new signage and thicker, safer railings, was completed in March 2016.

Also part of the major infrastructure project are upgrades to 13 electrical power substations and fortification of 12 bridges throughout the LIRR system.

The announcement comes amid what Cuomo dubbed the “Summer of Hell” for the city’s commuters. To facilitate Amtrak’s emergency construction work at Penn Station, the LIRR is running on a special schedule, canceling or rerouting certain trains that run to the station and offering perks to riders who take alternate routes into Manhattan.

“With the complete transformation of the Long Island Rail Road, New York is recapturing the bold ambition that made our infrastructure the envy of the nation and building for the future,” Cuomo said.