Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization

Executive Board Meets with LIRR on Double Track Project

On Friday January 11, members of the civic's Executive Board met with representatives from the Long Island Rail Road regarding the "Double Track Project" from Ronkonkoma to Farmingdale. The project will establish two continuous railroad tracks from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma. The LIRR states that this project, along with other projects in various stages of planning (mainly associated with Long Island MacArthur Airport), will improve service, spur economic growth and provide many construction-related jobs.
A few details:
• The new tracks will all be within existing LIRR property, so no property acquisitions will be needed.
• Some portion of the new track will be north of the existing tracks while some portions of the new track will be placed south of the existing tracks.
• The project will be done in two phases. The first phase will be from Ronkonkoma to Brentwood and the second phase will be from Brentwood to Farmingdale.
• Construction on Phase 1 could begin in early 2014, with study, design and engineering completed in 2013.
• Funding is available for Phase 1; it is expected to cost approximately $138 million.
• A retaining wall will need to be built in a few areas to allow room for the additional track.

During the meeting, some issues and concerns were raised about the project:
• Traffic on Ocean Avenue will be impacted negatively by this project. Right now, traffic backs up when the signal gates are down. With more trains coming through, there will be more frequent instances of the gates down and stopping traffic. This has a ripple effect on side streets in the area. There is no money budgeted for a bridge at that crossing; however, the LIRR representatives indicated that traffic studies and possible enhancements to Ocean Avenue in that area would be considered to mitigate any negative effects. LIRR representatives agreed to meet with members of the community to do a "walk-through" of the area to identify current issues and discuss how those would be exacerbated by the second track.
• Increased freight traffic was a concern. The LIRR stated that no additional freight trains are expected with the second track; perhaps cars would be added to the freight trains that utilize the tracks currently.
• Some portions of the fence on either side of the existing tracks are in poor condition. The LIRR stated that the fencing would be repaired or replaced as needed with the project.
• There were questions as to whether the continuous second track would address the "reverse commute" issue. That is, would there be better service to Ronkonkoma in the morning when most people are going to Manhattan? Similarly, would there be better service to Manhattan in the early evening, when most people are going to Ronkonkoma? Better service during these times will be important to the Ronkonkoma Hub project. There will be some relief as the expectation is that the LIRR will be able to add one more train during the reverse commute periods, cutting the long gap (two and a half hours) in half. To allow more frequent service during those times involves additional track work to the west, specifically between Hicksville and Floral Park. That is not being considered at this time.
The LIRR set up an information center at the Ronkonkoma Station starting on January 16 through January 19. LIRR personnel were in attendance to discuss details of the project, answer questions and document feedback from the public.

The Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization will provide additional information as it is received and also inform the community when any public informational meetings will be held.