Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LIRR to double-track Ronkonkoma line

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Seeking to improve capacity and reduce scheduling conflicts, MTA Long Island Rail Road Tuesday said it plans to begin double-tracking 12.6 miles of LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, N.Y., two years ahead of the previous schedule.

The move comes in part due to the recent approval by the state legislature of additional funding for MTA's five-year capital plan. The legislature included $138 million for the project, extending double-track operations from Farmingdale, on the eastern edge of Nassau County, deep into neighboring Suffolk County on Long Island.

Bids for the project may be sought as early as this July, with projected completion of the upgrade by 2019.

LIRR officials believe the project not only will increase operating efficiency for the railroad's New York-bound riders, but also improve access to and from Long Island MacArthur Airport. The double-track project also is considered an important spur to redevelopment efforts on Long Island, including transit-oriented development (TOD) in Ronkonkoma and Wyandanch, as Suffolk and Nassaus counties begin dealing with the numerous problems generated by suburban sprawl and lack of rail transit access.