WYANDANCH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Expect some closures and service disruptions over the next month on the Long Island Rail Road between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, all due to an intense push to finish a key track project.
But the payoff is expected to bring improvement to millions of riders, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.
Sparks are flying. It’s all hands on deck.
For the first time in its 184-year history, the LIRR will operate on at least two tracks on its main line from Manhattan to Ronkonkoma.
When asked if he likes the Double Track project, commuter Ralph Roxin said, “Yes, because it will speed service and it has been decades coming.”
The LIRR said the project will be ready by the end of the summer, a year ahead of schedule. The transit agency said commuters should see immediate relief.
“During service disruptions many trains are impacted,” LIRR Executive VP Elisa Picca said. “With the Double Track we’ll be able to run around problems and, overall, deliver a much more reliable, resilient service.”
And to the skeptics?
“It’s coming. They’ve seen the construction,” Picca said.
Riders sent CBS2 photos of their Sunday evening commute to Penn Station from the Hamptons. Cars were overcrowded and riders said they felt unsafe. They said trains stalled at troubled signals.
The LIRR said the Double Track project will alleviate many complaints, including some of the more common ones, like overcrowding and on-time arrivals.
Mitch Pally of Long Island sits on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. He said once commuters have a third track through Nassau and East Side access, things will be different.
“One stop, Penn or Grand Central. It will be a game changer for Long Island,” Pally said. “This is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.”
As the project races to the finish line, there will be required service outages. Among them, no weekday overnight service between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma for the next two weeks.
It’s a massive project with a big payoff. Commuters will need patience.
“With all the construction on the highways right now, I think the train is the best alternative,” Old Westbury commuter Jonathan Gold said.
The LIRR is the busiest commuter railroad in the country — 89 million riders and growing.
Part of the Double Track project will also bring new heated platforms, canopies, overpasses and elevators.