LIRR to fast-track Ronkonkoma branch project

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) today announced that it will fast-track the addition of a second track to its Ronkonkoma branch, but not everyone

DEER PARK - The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) today announced that it will fast-track the addition of a second track to its Ronkonkoma branch, but not everyone is on board with the plan.The project was not slated to start for another three years, but recent funds to the tune of $138 million have the LIRR and MTA accepting bids to design the project as soon as this summer. The project will add a second track to 12 miles of the main line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone calls the project a "home run for Long Island's economy." Proponents say it will improve service, create jobs and promote economic development. But area civic leader Patricia Burkhart says those are just buzz words. "Why not put that money into making sure trains are safe, tracks are safe and then other projects as well that really affect these communities?" she says. "I don't see why there's a push for this second track other than political posturing." LIRR officials say that the Ronkonkoma branch has the highest number of customers per train on peak trains. They also say the second track will make trains run on time more often and will dramatically reduce the impact of train breakdowns.

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