The final five miles of rail in the LIRR’s Double Track project between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma will be completed this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.
The new track will be 13 miles long and runs parallel to an existing 18-mile-long track, he said.
The addition of the second track “will dramatically reduce delays” on the railroad, Cuomo said, and the added capacity will enable the railroad to offer half-hourly service in both directions during off-peak hours as well as provide better service to and from Long Island MacArthur Airport. In the event of a service interruption, the second track would give the Long Island Rail Road the flexibility to reduce the impact of the disruption.
About 48,000 riders use the Ronkonkoma Branch on weekdays, according to the governor’s office.
The Double Track project, costing $387.2 million, was formally introduced in 2009. The first segment of new track was laid in 2015, and it reached as far as Central Islip the following year.
The Double Track project is among 24 LIRR projects, costing a total of $1 billion, expected to be completed by December, Cuomo said at a news conference in Deer Park.
“Another 21 will be started this year, so this is a very aggressive and ambitious time table,” said Cuomo, who was surrounded by local politicians and labor leaders.
With cameras in tow, Cuomo walked the rail, and showed off a new machine, which he later said was capable of laying one mile of track per day, about 10 times as fast as what workers were able to do manually in years past.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, used the new equipment, the Track Construction machine, for the first time in the Double Track project, and plans to use it in future projects.
“By speeding up this process, the MTA is significantly improving productivity, increasing safety and reducing potential of construction disruption to local communities,” Cuomo said.