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LIRR, unions agree on cost-saving measures for construction projects


MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and local unions have reached a "project labor agreement" to lower LIRR's labor costs on seven major construction projects by nearly 11 percent, saving the railroad about $6.5 million over the next five years, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday.

The agreement also will protect local trade union jobs, Cuomo administration officials said in a press release.

Negotiated between the LIRR and the Buildings and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties, the agreement is a first for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and LIRR. The pact includes a "no strike" clause on the covered projects, provides opportunities for minorities and women to enter trade union apprenticeships, and includes nondiscrimination provisions in union hiring hall and job replacement practices.

"As the MTA moves forward on vital LIRR repairs and improvement projects, this agreement will help reduce costs, while creating and retaining good jobs on Long Island," said Cuomo.

The first project under the agreement, still subject to approval by MTA's board, involves civil and structural work for the first phase of LIRR's proposed construction of a second track on a mainline between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, scheduled to begin in early 2014. The MTA budgeted $137.7 million for the first phase in the 2010-2014 capital plan.

The double-track project is designed to improve service and reliability on one of the railroad's busiest branches, spur economic activity, improve off-peak service frequency and reserve peak commenting opportunities, LIRR officials said. The project's environmental assessment and 30-day comment period has been completed, with a final decision on the project expected in fall.

Other projects covered by the agreement are the new Mid-Suffolk Electric Yard, a $76.6 million project; Hicksville Station improvements, $55.2 million, and Hicksville North siding, $37.7 million; Ellison Avenue Bridge replacement in Mineola, $39.2 million; Great Neck pocket track extension, $25.8 million; Wantagh Station platform replacement, $20.7 million; and the Colonial Road highway bridge replacement, also in Great Neck, $9.5 million.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/18/2013