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LIRR Project To Cause Major Service Disruptions Over Two Weekends

Signal modernization projects will restrict service through Jamaica Station for almost all LIRR lines affecting Port Jefferson branch.

Travel on the Port Jefferson branch of the LIRR will become a baffling array of transfers over the weekends of Oct. 23-24 and Nov. 6-7 while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority modernizes three signal and switching towers in Jamaica Station. The LIRR suggested that only people with "essential " business and no other commuting options take the rails to the city during the affected weekends.

The project is deemed necessary because it will cut over to a more modern signal and switching system at Jamaica, currently handled by three towers named Jay, Dunton and Hall. The towers will be upgraded with microprocessor technology so that they can be controlled remotely from one location in Jamaica Central Control. The technology currently in the towers dates all the way back to the 1910's.

The estimated cost of the upgrade is $56-million, paid for by the MTA Capital Program.

"This project will help us get ready for the future and continue our ongoing effort to modernize the LIRR's most critical signal and switching systems," said LIRR President Helena E. Williams in a statement announcing the service changes.

A fire in the Hall tower made for a commuting nightmare over the summer and the LIRR believes that the new system will help mitigate the disruption caused by signal fires and electrical surges.

"Last month's fire at Jamaica underscored the need for this upgrade and we ask for customer's patience during these two weekends," Williams said. "The work will help ensure reliability of train service going forward."

Trains leaving Port Jefferson will run every two-hours instead of every 90 minutes as usual. The diesel trains will terminate at Huntington train Station. In Huntington, customers will make the normal transfer to electric trains service where trains will run on an hourly schedule instead of half-hourly to go on to Mineola. At Mineola passengers will have to board busses taking them to Jamaica Station. To get into Penn Station passengers will then take the "E" subway line located downstairs at Jamaica Station. Passengers will have to do the entire mind-boggling trip in reverse to head back home.

The LIRR says it will have extra personnel on hand to help customers. Special timetables for the weekends of October 23-24 and November 6-7 will be available in stations and online.

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