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LIMBA program – Helena Williams LIRR president

November 15, 2013 @ 12:00 am EST


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Our speaker this morning was Long Island Railroad President Helena Williams. Helena has been our guest speaker at LIMBA each year for the last few years. Her mission today was to inform us of the various projects the railroad is working on.


The principal effort of today’s discussion was the second track on the Ronkonkoma line. The electrification of the Ronkonkoma line was accomplished in the mid 1990’s but only one track was active.(That was a project a LIMBA requested) But Ms. Williams pointed out that although the rail system could not find the money for the second track, however the electrical substations were built robust enough to support the additional track. That made the building the second track less of a burden, and now it is coming to fruition, she credited the past leadership’s foresight.


Double track will advance the efforts of the LI MacArthur airport to regain passengers and be profitable. It will have an impact on economic development by allowing reverse commutes. Williams expects to be able to have half hourly service in both directions during off-peak times, resulting in a substantial increase in service.


Beyond the service improvements are the economic benefits of engaging workers building the infrastructure.


The resiliency of the system by making this second track improvement will also serve us better when we suffer large scale disasters such we saw in hurricane Sandy and what we are now seeing in the Philippines.


Williams pointed out that some of the planning that was done over 100 years ago served us well. The tunnels leading into Penn Station were built at a much lower level than the station itself. These tunnels did take on water but Penn Station was spared, and that would have been a much worse situation. Helena stated before she closed that the mainline improvements are essential when you consider the growing frequency and ferocity of weather patterns.


There are so many good reasons for making the proposed improvements and outreach to the community is essential to making the public aware and winning support for the railroad. That’s what she accomplished today.


This meeting was sponsored by Greenman Pedersen Inc., an engineering firm that has expertise in railroad planning and design as well as other disciplines. Team leader Denise Carter introduced the speaker- Thank you Greenman Pedersen.


Ernie Fazio