between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma.
"The Double Track Project is the key to improving service reliability and on-time performance on one of the LIRR's busiest branches, as well as increasing service during off-peak and weekend periods," said MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast. "We also know and the experts agree, Double Track will be a boom for Long Island economically."
Ridership on the LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch is 44,700 each weekday and has doubled during the past 25 years, growing in popularity since the line was electrified in 1988. But with just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, the LIRR can operate only a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains (east and west) have no way around the problem.
Once completed, Double Track is said to have immediate benefits for LIRR customers by allowing for half-hourly, off-peak service in both directions. It also will allow for long-term improvements to LIRR service when the East Side Access project is completed. This will offer LIRR customers direct access to Grand Central Terminal and the East Side of Manhattan beginning in 2019.
The plan is to add 12.6 miles of new track in two phases so that the LIRR can provide double track service over the entire 17.9-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. The route includes LIRR stations at Farmingdale, Pinelawn, Wyandanch, Deer Park, Brentwood, Central Islip and Ronkonkoma.
The first phase includes an environmental review and after completion of that review, a design of the entire project and construction of a four-mile segment between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. This phase is already completely funded and tentatively scheduled for completion by late 2016. Phase two, which requires $297 million and is not yet funded, will stretch a second track from Central Islip all the way to Farmingdale by the end of 2018.
The other Double Track Information Center will open at Farmingdale Station Jan. 23 and remain open through Jan 26.