January will see the final five miles of rail installed as part of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Double Track project.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) explains that the utilization of design-build construction along with a specialized New Track Construction machine lays rail more than 10 times faster than the agency has ever done. The accelerated construction has saved MTA more than $7 million and the project is expected to be complete in August 2018, 16 months ahead of schedule.
With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, 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 – coming from both east and west – have no way around the problem.
The 13 miles of new double track will enable the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions.
The project has taken place over two phases. Phase One used the New Track Construction machine to lay the first 3.5 miles of new track between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma and was completed in August 2016. Phase Two includes laying the rest of the track between Farmingdale and Central Islip. Over the next several months, crews will continue construction that includes stone ballast, tamping, surfacing and installation of the third rail and new signal system.