New Bridge Raises Vehicular Clearance by More Than Four Feet
Move Will Enhance Safety and On-Time Performance
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today unveiled a new overpass in Garden City with a 14-foot, five-inch vehicular clearance that will improve safety and reduce train delays. The bridge, which carries the Long Island Rail Road’s Hempstead Branch over Cherry Valley Avenue, replaces an 1871-era structure that had a posted clearance of 10’4” and was struck by over-height trucks more frequently than any other LIRR bridge.
As part of the project, the track bed at nearby Cathedral Avenue, the railroad crossing east of Cherry Valley Avenue, was rebuilt and brought to a state of good repair.
“The LIRR continues to move forward by modernizing the system with upgraded stations, better schedules and service and resilient infrastructure,” said LIRR Interim President and Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi. “The old bridge at Cherry Valley Avenue was hit by trucks more than any other bridge in the system, creating delays and compromising safety. The new, higher bridge creates a stronger railroad for our customers and the region.”
“Raising this bridge is yet another investment that the MTA is making to ensure that Long Islanders have a safe, modern, reliable and resilient form of transit,” said MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “On top of the billions of dollars that have been invested in high-profile projects like the Ronkonkoma double track and Main Line Third Track projects, innovative projects like this demonstrate the MTA’s ability to deliver key upgrades to core infrastructure while minimizing impacts for riders.”
LIRR crews raised the bridge that carries the LIRR Hempstead Branch 12 inches at a time (a total of 36 inches) over three consecutive weekends. On the final weekend of work, taking place Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2, a new rail bridge was installed with a clearance of 14 feet 5 inches.
Raising the height of the bridge is intended to reduce strikes by overheight trucks, which pose a safety risk for drivers and delay train service. Following any incident, trains operate with slow speed orders while LIRR bridge inspectors travel to the bridge to ensure it is safe to operate at full speed.
“The newly raised Cherry Valley Avenue Bridge will make commuting safer and more reliable for Long Islanders,” said State Senator Kevin Thomas. “I applaud the MTA for working to renovate the outdated infrastructure in a timely manner and working with the Village of Garden City and residents to ensure the upgrades successfully address long-term safety risks at the railroad crossing for drivers and LIRR riders alike.”
“The safety of residents in my district is a top priority of mine, and the action that was taken to raise the bridge is a worthwhile, productive investment for improving safety in Garden City,” said Assembly Member Ed Ra. “We continue to use pertinent data and hear your voices on the changes that will make you feel safe, and I am happy to see these types of investments that will allow for drivers, train operators and riders to get to their destinations safely.”
The Hempstead Branch’s Cherry Valley Avenue Bridge was struck by vehicles 162 times over a 12-year period from 2010 to 2022. Comparatively, the second-most struck railroad bridge, located at St. James Street and Chestnut Street, also on the Hempstead Branch, was struck 50 times. Since 2018, thanks in part to the LIRR Main Line Expansion Project between Floral Park and Hicksville, the MTA has raised the heights of seven bridges in Nassau County, including what had been the third-most-struck bridge, a low-lying 1911-era bridge at Nassau Blvd. in Garden City with a clearance of 11 feet 6 inches, which was replaced in Oct. 2019, with a new bridge with a 14 foot clearance. Nearby, the MTA had replaced the frequently struck bridge carrying the LIRR Main Line over Post Avenue in Westbury in Oct. 2017, raising its height from 11 feet 10 inches to 14 feet.
The project to raise the bridge is part of an $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road that is funding more than 100 projects, including the opening of service to Grand Central Madison; construction of a more spacious LIRR Concourse at Penn Station and a new entrance at 33 St.; renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges; activation of the Positive Train Control safety system; installation of 13 miles of second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; upgrades to 15 electrical substations; parking capacity increases; yard expansions, and more. Additionally, the MTA, together with NJ Transit and Amtrak, plans to seek federal funding to rebuild Penn Station into a world-class, single-level terminal.