Today’s news:

Atlantic Ave. viaduct to get makeover - Important Long Island Railroad stretch to undergo major restoration

More than a century after it was built, the Atlantic Avenue viaduct that carries Long Island Railroad trains through eastern Brooklyn is being reconstructed.

“Our goal is to restore this much-traveled and critical stretch of railroad infrastructure to a state of good repair and extend the service life of the viaduct to ensure safe and reliable service to our customers and the public,” explained Helena Williams, LIRR’s president.

LIRR will begin the 16-month project on October 25th, working only on weekends, “from Friday night straight through to Sunday night,” to minimize disruption to the community, said Salvatore Arena, an agency spokesperson.

“In terms of local impact, we are doing our best to keep it to a minimum,” Arena told this paper. “One way to do that is to limit construction to weekends only. That way, rush hour traffic on Atlantic Avenue won’t be impacted.”

On weekends, however, Arena said, “There will be some traffic diversions necessary. We will be arranging for some detours, traffic agents and signage to guide motorists away from the construction area.”

In addition, said Arena, trains will operate on their regular schedules on both weekdays and weekends, so that impact on commuters will be limited. At times, according to LIRR, trains will utilize a single track to allow work to proceed.

The first phase of the project will cost $93.4 million, and will include the replacement of a total of 81 spans between Ralph and Troy Avenues, as well as six spans between Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues. Completion of the first phase is anticipated for January, 2010.

Work will only take place along a two-block stretch of viaduct at any one time. “Construction is going from east to west in segments,” Arena explained.

While the viaduct rehabilitation does not involve a complete replacement, it comes pretty close, said Arena, who explained that virtually everything will be new, including track, walkways, girders, beams and bracing. The upper portions of the columns will also be replaced, and the viaduct will be painted.

An average of 25,000 customers ride trains along the line each weekday; on weekends, the line carries a total of 16,000 customers from Saturday through Sunday. Each weekday, there are 162 trains running along the line.

The viaduct, which was built in 1901, stretches a mile and a half from Nostrand Avenue to Ralph Avenue, and is held up by a total of 199 10-foot-long steel spans.

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