Long Island Rail Road President Helena E.Williams speaks during the celebration milestone on Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Photo credit: MTAPhotos
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA) Chairman/CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and MTA Long Island Rail Road
(LIRR) President Helena E. Williams
marked the 100th anniversary of Jamaica Station, rededicating the historic transportation hub and transfer point for 10 of the LIRR’s 11 branches that is used by 150,000 commuters every day.
The important role of Jamaica Station, memorialized in railroad lexicon by the catch phrase “Change at Jamaica” has made commuting between Long Island and New York City possible for generations of LIRR customers. The station opened for business in 1913 as was part of newly elevated right-of-way in Jamaica that did away with street level grade crossings for the first time.
Williams noted the LIRR’s longtime partnership with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in ongoing efforts to maintain and improve downtown Jamaica’s vibrant commercial center. The restoration of the LIRR’s century old headquarters building, located at Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, is part of the Railroad’s commitment to the local community.
“We are proud to be a part of Greater Jamaica,” said Williams. “Our headquarters and Jamaica Station has been an anchor in this neighborhood for 100 years, bringing tens of thousands of travelers to Jamaica annually. We hope, with this restoration, to be here at least another 100 years.”
For much of the last year, LIRR headquarters was veiled in scaffolding and steel grey safety netting as the LIRR Engineering Department employees and a private contractor, Alps Mechanical Inc., labored on building elements that had seriously deteriorated over the years. The restoration effort was carried out in an effort to be consistent with the historic character of the building under the direction of the LIRR’s Department of Program Management.
In coming years, the MTA and LIRR are planning more than $300 million in infrastructure improvements as part of the first phase of the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project. Phase 1 encompasses design and construction in support of East Side Access, the new path to Manhattan that will bring LIRR customers to Grand Central Terminal and East Midtown for the first time.
The work includes the construction of a new platform specifically dedicated to scoot service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn; the removal and installation of switches; realignment of track; reconfiguration of the Johnson Avenue Train Yard; construction of a freight train bypass track and modification to the existing signal system.