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Apr 23, 2019 6:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Train Trestle Work In East Hampton Village Should Be Completed This Year

The construction crew was working on building a wall to hold up the tracks on Tuesday afternoon.  ELIZABETH VESPE
Apr 23, 2019 11:50 AM

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to finish a $20 million project to raise two problematic railroad trestles in East Hampton Village before the end of this year.

John Kettell, the Long Island Rail Road’s engineer of structural projects, updated the East Hampton Village Board at the board’s meeting on Thursday, April 11, noting that the North Main Street bridge is one of the LIRR’s most “at risk” bridges due to its low clearance of 11 feet, though signs say it is only 10 feet.

“It is frequently struck by trucks that pass underneath that don’t meet the clearance,” Mr. Kettell said. He added that those incidents are not only disruptive to train service but also closes roads, impeding emergency responders based on North Main Street. The MTA’s offices are located in Bethpage, and it can take more than two hours for workers to respond to the village after an incident.

Mr. Kettell said the project will give the trestle 14 feet of clearance, which will reduce, if not eliminate, the number of bridge hits.

“It’s a bridge we’ve been looking at and studying for many years, and I’m happy that were finally replacing it,” said Mr. Kettell, who’s worked for the LIRR for more than 29 years.

The trestle’s “sister bridge” on Accabonac Road, which has 10.75 feet of clearance and its own history of vehicle strikes, is also undergoing reconstruction. In addition to being raised by 3 feet, the span will rest on new abutments that will replace the current stone ones, which were built at the turn of the century.

“We needed to build a retaining wall both in between the two bridges and east of Accabonac. That’s the work that you’ve been seeing going on,” Mr. Kettell told the board.

Workers have completed the wall east of Accabonac Road and are 90 percent done with the northern wall between the two bridges. In May, the MTA plans to start the last wall, the south wall, in between North Main Street and Accabonac Road.

Dan J. Knote, LIRR project manager, told board members that a third party will complete the final phases of the work, including laying down the track. That contract should be awarded sometime this week, he said.

The MTA plans to contain most of the work to Hook Mill Road. From October 15 to November 10—a total of 27 days—workers will be removing and replacing the existing train tracks and structures, Mr. Knote said. During that span of time, other roads may be closed as a large crane places the tracks on the abutments.

“We’re trying to do it in a time frame when traffic is less,” Vanessa Lockle, a representative of the MTA who handles government and community affairs, said. They’ll be working with Village Police to mitigate traffic and make people aware of alternative routes if need be, she added.

Board member Barbara Borsack, who lives on Accabonac Road, was concerned that residents who live on North Main Street and Accabonac Road won’t be able to access their homes when the major last phase of work takes place.

“All residents will be able to get to their homes,” Mr. Kettell reassured her, adding that representatives of the LIRR hoped to meet with village officials at the beginning of May to discuss traffic, road closures and using Hook Mill Road for staging.

The bridges will be 119 feet by 16 feet, Mr. Kettell said. Materials will be shipped from New Jersey to Mattituck by water, and from Mattituck to East Hampton by road. They should arrive a week before the October 15 construction is slated. “We plan to be out of here by the end of the year,” Mr. Knote said.

“We appreciate people’s patience, but we’re also aware of how difficult this can be for a community,” Ms. Lockle added. “We’re on a mission and we’re dedicated to growing the Long Island Rail Road.”

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