Riders on the Long Island Rail Road's Ronkonkoma branch will have to endure three more weeks of disruption, as a three-month maintenance project enters its final phase.

Weekday trains between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma will be replaced by buses starting Monday and continuing through Aug. 10, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority replaces about 3,500 wooden ties on the 17-mile stretch of track.

"It's just work that has to be done," said Bill Henderson, executive director of the LIRR Commuter Council, a rider advocacy group.

Affected trains include those leaving Penn Station going eastbound between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and westbound trains leaving Ronkonkoma between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Riders will face up to 32 minutes of extra travel times on westbound commutes, and up to 18 minutes on eastbound commutes.

Trains leaving Penn Station on the Ronkonkoma branch will travel as far as Farmingdale, but riders going farther east will have to catch a bus two stops earlier, in Hicksville. Westbound riders will be bused from Ronkonkoma to Hicksville.

The MTA has been working on the Ronkonkoma branch since May 14, replacing a total of 13,000 ties.

The ties, typically made of Pennsylvanian oak, have a life span of about 30 years. The MTA replaces them in cycles, usually overhauling about 20 percent at once.

With just a single track on a large stretch of the Ronkonkoma branch, a second one -- currently in planning stages -- could reduce disruptions, Henderson said.

"What we need is two tracks," he said.

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