LIRR third-track project remains on schedule

News Wire Digest second section: Drop in tax revenue could slow Illinois infrastructure, transit projects; BNSF gets new police chief
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An outbound Long Island Rail Road train meets a New York & Atlantic train on a section of the LIRR Main Line which will eventually be triple-tracked as part of a capacity expansion project. The $2.6 billion project remains on schedule despite challenges created by the COVID-19 outbreak.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Wednesday morning rail news:

— The Long Island Rail Road’s project to add a third track to its Main Line remains on schedule and within budget, even while facing supply-chain and other issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Janno Lieber, capital construction president and chief development officer for the Metropolitan Transportation authority, tells Newsday that the project’s design team and contractors have mostly figured out how to work around distancing and other challenges presented by the pandemic. The $2.6 billion project, to add 10 miles of third main between Floral Park and Hicksville, N.Y., began in 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

— While projects planned for this year are likely to be unaffected, a loss in gas-tax revenue could delay some items included in the six-year, $45-billion infrastructure bill passed by the Illinois legislature in 2019, which includes significant funding for Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority. The Chicago Tribune reports a study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute is projecting a decrease in gas-tax funds of $296 million to $559 million this year, depending on the scenario. Metra spokesman Mike Gillis told the Tribune the commuter railroad plans to finalize an order for new passenger cars this year, and will continue other projects, but that there is “no clear picture” on the future. Future funding from the infrastructure bill is to help pay for new locomotives, continue existing car and locomotive rehab programs, and upgrade stations and other infrastructure, as outlined in a statement in Metra’s 2020 budget.

— One week after announcing his retirement as chief of the Arlington, Texas, police force, Chief Will Johnson has announced he will become chief of the BNSF Railway police force, KDFW-TV reports. Johnson, 47, will retire in June after 23 years with the Arlington Police Department, the last seven as chief. He is vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a position he will retain as he joins BNSF at its Fort Worth headquarters.


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