The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) has awarded the Railroad Construction Company, Inc. (RCC) with Large Project of the Year for its work on the $108-million Mid-Suffolk Electric Yard project on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in Ronkonkoma, New York. The design-build project is part of the multi-billion-dollar LIRR Enhancement that will provide additional space to store, maintain, inspect, service and clean electric train cars.
RCC completed the project to expand the rail storage track with zero recordable/lost-time incidents while addressing the extraordinary challenges of working without interruption in an active rail yard in the midst of the evolving COVID-19pandemic. NRC award judges were impressed by RCC’s extra intensity of working in a busy New York metro area rail yard. Any train delays on this project carried a financial penalty, and there were none. The project exemplified outstanding management and planning, which are key to working on New York metro area projects.
In a letter submitted on behalf of RCC’s award submission, LIRR Senior Project Manager Steven J. Schneider noted RCC’s performance surpassed expectations and deserved industry recognition.
“The last year has presented a number of obstacles no one could have predicted. The RCC team maintained a constant presence on the project site to uphold the schedule and keep construction moving forward … Pre and post Covid-19, the number of safety precautions that were implemented and enforced is to be commended. The quality of management surpassed our expectations,” wrote Schneider.
Under the leadership of Project Manager, Frank Spinozza, RCC organized the work into two phases to avoid disrupting LIRR’s around-the-clock train operations:
Phase I – This phase included excavating the site, installing new underground infrastructure, and constructing a new building to support employees at the site. After site excavation, crews installed sanitary and drainage systems, retaining walls, new service roads and walkways as well as water and fire main lines and new gas service lines.
Once the excavation was completed, a new 32,000square-foot, two-story Employee Welfare Building was constructed. Crews then demolished the former employee facility to make room for the new rail storage yard. Extensive electrical underground duct bank systems were created to support the construction of two new AC power and DC traction power electrical substations, yard lighting, communication, and security systems.
Phase 2 – RCC installed 11 new storage tracks totaling 14,000 LF of track and tied in it into the existing mainline track. They also constructed various utility sheds, switch tender/drill crew sheds, hazmat and material storage facilities and a new guard booth.
Prior to breaking ground, RCC held multiple meetings and site walkthroughs to review drawings and to ensure the design-build team met all the needs of the various LIRR user groups. This process continued during construction to enable the team to confirm each change and then execute construction accordingly.
The contract required that track work activities could not affect existing rail yard operations. RCC addressed this requirement by installing a regularly maintained temporary walkway across the work zone to allow for LIRR pedestrian and vehicle access. The RCC team created a pedestrian walkway by flooding the new track with compacted ballast for vehicle access and incorporating a series of wood planking with non-slip rubber mats, As the schedule progressed, crews removed and reinstalled the temporary walkway multiple times to accommodate the work.
Project designer HNTB and these major subcontractors contributed to the success of the project:
Century Group Inc. – Supplied grade crossing panels and deflector shields
Progress Rail, formerly Cleveland Track Materials – Supplied #8 and #10 turnouts, double slip switch, diamond crossing, derail switch,
Rocla Concrete Tie, Inc. –Supplied concrete ties
American Rail Marketing LLC –Supplied 136RE running rail
G&B Specialties, Inc –Supplied switch stands
Selco Manufacturing Corp –Supplied third rail materials (fiberglass extension channels, protection board, protection board brackets, insulators)
Transtech – Supplied third rail (conductor rail),splice bars, and end approaches
Holland L.P. – Performed flash butt welding
Orgo-Thermit,Inc. - Supplied thermite weld kits
Eldor Contracting Corporation –Supplied and installed cabling/power for third rail.
“The NRC, aside from being the voice and representation of the railroad contracting industry, provides many great benefits to its members. One such benefit is our annual tuition assistance or Scholarship program. Since 2013, the NRC has offered this program to eligible children and grandchildren of NRC member companies. This past year, we were able to provide assistance to (6) students totaling $33,000. It is an honor to be a part of this and is truly gratifying to be able to invest in the futures of these promising students and to consistently hear how much they appreciate it.”
Track Division Manager
Railroad Construction Co.