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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) have started a $120 million construction program designed to protect the railroad's Long Beach Branch from the kind of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.To fortify the branch, construction is starting on a four-year project to build three new power stations and replace switching machines, signals and communications systems, as well as third-rail equipment, MTA officials said in a press release.In addition, the project will harden the electrical system that powers the Wreck Lead Bridge, which spans Reynolds Channel and connects Island Park to the city of Long Beach, N.Y.A four-week vegetation clearance effort was scheduled to begin yesterday on LIRR property to make way for a new pole line that will anchor new signal, communications and electrical systems and allow their placement above the flood plain.Other project details include:• Demolition and replacement of the Oceanside, Oil City and Long Beach substations with state-of-the-art pre-fabricated substations built on platforms that will take them out of harm's way in what is now considered a flood-prone area. The Oil City project is slated to begin in January 2015 and Long Beach, in September 2015. Cost: $56.5 million.• Replacement of switch machines, signals and communications and third-rail equipment — all now in the design stage. Cost: $56.4 million.• At Wreck Lead Bridge, replacement of underwater cable, and the bridge electrical system and emergency generator. Cost: $7 million.When Sandy struck Long Island on Oct. 29, 2012, the Long Beach branch was the most seriously affected of the railroad's 11 branches. MTA has added nine LIRR Sandy restoration projects to its 2010-2014 capital programs, a total commitment of $265 million, and the plans for Long Beach represent a major part of that effort.
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