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Crews have begun installing the first sections of rail as part of a $388 million double-track project along MTA Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday.Aimed at alleviating congestion on one of LIRR's busiest lines, the project calls for building second track along an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations, according to a press release issued by Cuomo’s office.Adding double track will allow the agency to increase service during off-peak times and weekends, according to MTA Chair and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast."The MTA is investing billions of dollars in this and other LIRR infrastructure improvements and using an innovative design-build process that gets the job done faster," Prendergast said. "This commitment is sure to pay dividends by making Long Island more competitive and more convenient long into the future."Last year, MTA workers began clearing a path for four miles of new track between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. This first phase of the double-track project, estimated to cost $138 million, is funded by the agency's 2010-14 capital program.The project's second phase, which will cost $250 million, will extend the second track by another 12.6 miles to Farmingdale by 2019, Cuomo's administration said.When completed, the project will have brought close to $100 million into the Long Island economy and created 1,000 new jobs, Cuomo's staffers said.Over the past 25 years, ridership has doubled on the Ronkonkoma Branch, where trains now carry more than 48,000 passengers each weekday.
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