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Work on LIRR Second Track to Start in July

Extra line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma expected to finish in 2018.

Design work is expected to start in July for a second track on the Ronkonkoma line of the Long Island Rail Road.

State officials and the LIRR said environmental and other work will begin on the $138-million extension of the line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. The first phase, LIRR president Helena Williams said, would involve work between Ronkonkoma to Central Islip, with a target completion date of Septembe 2016. Phase II involves the line from Central Islip to Farmingdale, with a 2018 completion date. Included in the second phase is a the rebuilding and reopening of the Republic LIRR station along Route 110.

Members of the state Senate who helped push through extra funds to get the project underway nearly two years earlier than originally scheduled, took turns at a press conference Thursday praising each others' efforts and the benefits of improved LIRR access on the line.

State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, cited numerous benefits of the project. “The second track project brings tremendous benefits; jobs, economic development for Long Island, and improved service for LIRR riders.  That’s why we fought so hard to make sure work starts now, not in 2015. Accelerating this project will allow that to happen and ensure that a project which has long been a dream finally becomes a reality,” Fuschillo, who is chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said. Fuschillo and others said the Long Island delegation had pressed for inclusion of the funds during budget negotiations.

"The impact of this important return on our investment will boost our region's strength, and specifically our economy. This will create jobs, improve our tax base, and make Long Island a better place to work and raise a family," State Sen. Lee Zeldin, R-Shirley, said.

LIRR president Helena Williams said the senators had recognized that the "LIRR is an economic engine for Long Island, getting residents to high skilled, high paying jobs. Double Track is a very important project both for the LIRR and for Long Island. It will provide real benefits for decades to come," she said.

Fuschillo's office said that the Main Line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, covering 17.9 miles,  has 5.3 miles of double track, including at most stations. Under the project, a second track will be added to the remaining 12.6 miles of single, electrified track along the Main Line.

Labor leaders on hand predicted that the project would create about 300 construction jobs but far more in related work.

Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors Association, said, "We'll have heavy construction, asphalt, steel and bridge work but there's a ripple effect," he said, that will create jobs in finance, bonding and other white-collar fields.

 “Long Island has not seen a major infrastructure investment in its transportation system in generations. We need to make this investment to prevent Long Island from becoming an economic backwater and allow the region to move forward, generate jobs, and attract new investment.  Double Track has strategic benefits for Long Island but the only way to receive them is to start work and get this project going," he said.

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who with Fuschillo and Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone have worked on a Route 110 revitalization project, also spoke in praise of the plan.

UPDATE: For more on this Patch report, please tune in to the WPIX news at 5. 

Bradley H. Smallberg May 25, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I agree with needed the second track, but we do not need a train station on Rte 110 at Republic Airport. I think politician need to stop saying by spending money we are creating jobs. We are not! When the government spends money they need to tax us and that comes from the pockets of the job creators, which means we reduce the amount of money in the private sector and move it to the public sector. Like I said, I support the project; just do not tell me it creates jobs.
Rich Murdocco May 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Any regional initiative that increases transit usage and provides linkage to multiple modes of transportation should be embraced by Long Islanders. The rail-airport connection is crucial for setting the template of future growth in the area.
John Rennhack May 25, 2012 at 07:56 PM
What we do need is a north-south cooridor linking LIRR East-West lines. Preferably in two locations. Light Rail that is efficient and convenient.

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