October 9, 2018


On Friday, September 28, LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst joined LIMBA at a member meeting with MTA Planning Chief, Janno Lieber (story courtesy of LIMBA, notes taken by Hank Russell).

Janno Lieber talked about the three biggest projects undertaken by the MTA: the recently completed Second Track project, the Third Rail expansion project and the East Side Access Project. He said these projects, once completed, will increase capacity by 50%, meaning more people will be using the railroad, more people will be arriving on time and have a better travel experience.

Mr. Lieber said MTA ridership will undergo a transformation once these projects are done because the MTA will have reverse peak service, meaning more New York City residents will take the LIRR eastward to jobs on Long Island.

Last week, the Main Line Double Track along the Ronkonkoma branch opened up. It comprises of 18 miles of track and allows trains to be routed around other trains that may be moving at slower speeds or are being delayed. In addition, three more trains have been added for reverse peak service. The project was completed more than a year ahead of schedule; Mr. Lieber credited that to the design/build approach, in which the developer and the contractor work together to come up with the most efficient project possible.

Mr. Lieber said he is looking for the newly renovated LIRR Stations as not just a commuter hub but a railroad station with a sense of place. He cited the Wyandanch train station being transformed as part of the Wyandanch Rising development, adding this is being similarly done with Deer Park and Brentwood.

For the Third Rail Expansion Project between Floral Park and Hicksville, Mr. Lieber said the tracks will be redone in order to eliminate bridge and grade crossings, where numerous crashes and fatalities have occurred. As part of its ongoing efforts to reach out to the community, the MTA has made numerous "community commitments" in which they meet with town and village officials and community organizations seeking their input and giving the local communities the opportunity to rate the contractors.

Mr. Lieber also shared details on the East Side Access project. The $10 billion project will consist of 40 miles of new tracks and 11 trains to Grand Central Station. This will save Long Islanders 40 minutes on their travel time and eliminate overcrowding at subway stations. Since it will be underground, he said, the MTA is making updates to the 63rd Street tunnel to prevent flooding.

The MTA is also working on the Harold Interlocking Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief Project, in which work is being done to create bypass routes so LIRR trains and Amtrak trains do not hold each other up while going through other lines along the Northeast corridor. According to Mr. Lieber, work is 75% complete; the problem was that, initially, Amtrak refused to offer help on the project because it was their property; Mr. Lieber urged Amtrak to help, stressing the need to provide high-speed train service. Since then, Amtrak relented and agreed to offer its employees to assist on the project. Completion is scheduled for 2022.

In addition to overseeing the agency's mega-projects, Mr. Lieber oversees the MTA Real Estate Department, the upgrade of MTA's project management capacity and the integration of real estate planning and economic development into MTA's infrastructure projects. He previously spent 15 years working on the World Trade Center project with Silverstein Properties.

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